Apple plans upgrades to popular AirPods headphones

By Bloomberg News, February 23 2018
Apple plans upgrades to popular AirPods headphones

Apple, seeking to bolster its wearables business, is working on upgrades to its wireless AirPods headphones, according to people familiar with the matter.

Like with its mobile devices – the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch – Apple intends to frequently update the AirPods with new hardware features.

The technology giant is working on a new version for release as soon as this year with an upgraded wireless chip, the people said. A subsequent model for as early as next year is planned to be water resistant, they added, asking not to be identified discussing private product plans.

The model coming as early as this year will let people summon Apple’s Siri digital assistant without physically tapping the headphones by saying "Hey Siri."

The function will work similarly to how a user activates Siri on an iPhone or a HomePod speaker hands-free. The headphones, internally known as B288, will include an upgraded Apple-designed wireless chip for managing Bluetooth connections.

The new Airpods could feature Apple's second-gen W2 wireless chip
The new Airpods could feature Apple's second-gen W2 wireless chip

The first AirPods include a chip known as the W1, and Apple released the W2 with the Apple Watch last year.

The idea for the water-resistant model is for the headphones to survive splashes of water and rain, the people said. They likely won’t be designed to be submerged in water.

The latest iPhones can survive splashes, while the Apple Watch is considered "swim-proof." Apple’s plans could change or be delayed, the people said. An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.

The AirPods are designed by the same department that produced the HomePod speaker, Bloomberg News reported last year. Apple introduced the first AirPods in 2016 alongside the iPhone 7 as a way to replace the traditional wired headphone jack.

Since launch, AirPods have been considered one of the top-performing Apple products and have resonated with both reviewers and consumers.

The product helped take wireless headphones mainstream. It was one of the first models to be fully wireless and come in a case that charges the headset. Similar products followed from Google, Sony, Samsung, Motorola and Bose. AirPods accounted for 85 percent of the money spent in the U.S. on wireless headphones since they debuted, research firm NPD Group estimated last year.

Apple’s Other Products segment, which includes AirPods, Beats headphones, the Watch, Apple TV and accessories, generated more than US$5 billion in revenue for the first time in the company’s fiscal first quarter, representing 36 percent year-over-year growth.

"Wearables were the second-largest contributor to revenue growth after iPhone, which is impressive," Apple Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri said during a conference call with analysts earlier this month, adding that sales jumped almost 70 percent last year.

The category may continue to grow. Apple has said it is releasing an upgraded AirPods case this year that allows the headphones to be recharged wirelessly, like the iPhone X. The company is also working on an augmented-reality headset that would launch in 2020 at the earliest, Bloomberg News has reported.

27 Jul 2017

Total posts 18

Make 'em noise cancelling and I'll buy.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Jun 2017

Total posts 18

Do people honestly like the look of these things?

24 Oct 2010

Total posts 2431

I’m very happy with mine - don’t mind the way they look at all, and certainly prefer them to older-style Bluetooth earpieces which looked like you were taking a coffee break at NASA misssion control!

MarkJohnSon Banned
MarkJohnSon Banned

19 Jan 2018

Total posts 89

Seeing people walk around with these candy canes in their ears has been quite shocking. For the first time in my life, I feel like I'm living in a dystopian reality. We don't interact with each other anymore.

I am astounded at the quality of the microphone pick-up in my Airpods but wish the audio was better, they're about the same as standard iPhone earbuds in my experience. If Apple can go one better and make them noise-cancelling they will absolutely be a best-seller.

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Apple plans upgrades to popular AirPods headphones