While the death of the 3.5mm headphone jack that first gave rise to Apple’s wireless AirPods may have been controversial at first, they have since taken the market by storm, continuing to sell out even a year after their initial release. That’s some pretty impressive stay-power, even for Apple, and now that the AirPods have turned two, fans are clamoring for a refresh.
Apple hasn’t mentioned a thing about what the future of the buds could hold. The best we’ve gotten out of them is a widely-noticed Easter egg in one of its promo-videos, along with the typical cycle of rumors fueled by supplier leaks, educated guesses from reputable analysts, and furious fan speculation.
Chatter online has suggested the AirPods 2 could be over-ear, noise-canceling, water-resistant, wirelessly chargeable, and serve as fitness trackers. All of these upgrades have been said to be coming to fruition very soon. So which anticipated updates are most likely and when should we expect them?
Here’s everything we know about Apple’s upcoming AirPods 2 release.
When Will the AirPods 2 Be Announced?
While there were lots of holdouts that AirPods would get a refresh at one of this year’s product launches, the smart money has always been that Apple would launch new AirPods in 2019. The only notable hold-out came on Tuesday, when an established Samsung leaker, known as Ice Universe said on Twitter that he’s still hopeful for an AirPods 2 launch this year. But that becomes more and more unlikely with every passing moment.
Apple hosted what was thought to be its final product launch of 2018 on October 30, when it unveiled its new iPad Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac mini models. The Cupertino-based company has never hosted a press event in November or December. And it’s unlikely we’ll get a standalone AirPods 2 launch seeing as the earbuds were originally released alongside complementary tech.
Next year seems like a more realistic timeframe. Trusted Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted they could be here in early 2019, a prediction that’s been echoed by Bloomberg’s notably well-sourced Mark Gurman. But perhaps more exciting than the Both Kuo and Gurman’s predictions for the launch date is the fact that both have forecasted that the AirPods 2 will be almost unrecognizable from their predecessors.
Will AirPods 2 Come With Over-the-Ear?
Both Kuo and Gurman have stated that the AirPods 2 might be more of a headset than earbuds. It’s unclear how this would be designed, but since Apple has acquired the luxury audio company, Beats Music and Beats Electronics, there’s a chance that next generation of AirPods will draw more heavily from Beats designs.
Will the AirPods 2 Be Noise-Cancelling?
One reason why over-the-ear AirPods makes sense is that they would enable noise-canceling features (Gurman has also asserted this in the past). Currently, AirPods suffer from sound-leakage issues. An over-ear, noise-canceling system could fix all of that, but many questions still remain. How would these even look and could the be considered “Pods?”
Will the AirPods 2 Be Water-Resistant?
The AirPods 2 might also become more resistant to the elements. Gurman’s sources revealed that they wouldn’t be completely waterproof, but could handle splashes. This potential feature might have been teased during this year’s iPhone keynote, during a scene where an AirPods-wearing runner bounds through a puddle.
Will the AirPods 2 Improve Siri?
In the same video that kicked off the iPhone XS event, Apple may also have hinted that AirPods 2 would come with an always-on “Hey Siri” feature. Kuo also predicted that improved voice assistant support could soon be implemented in the earbuds. This would allow users to summon Siri without having to tap the pods.
Will the AirPods 2 Have Biometric Sensors?
A series of unearthed trademark filings suggest that the AirPods 2 could come with the ability to track users’ pulse, a lot like the Apple Watch. This feature integration would make a lot of sense, especially given the company’s aggressive foray into health-tech.
Will AirPods 2 Come With a Wireless Charging Case?
Apple has actually revealed that a wireless charging case is in the AirPods future when it teased the yet-to-be-released AirPower charging mat. This planned update could actually be what is holding the AirPods 2 back from its release, as the AirPower charging mat has been beset by engineering delays because of all of the planned components.
What’s Taking The AirPods 2 So Long?
The heavily delayed AirPower could be holding the AirPods 2 hostage. The charging pad was touted to be able to simultaneously charge an iPhone, Apple Watch, and the upcoming AirPods wireless charging case. The Apple Watch and iPhones support wireless charging, so the AirPods are the final point of the tech triangle the AirPower is supposed to be able to charge.
It’s possible that the fate of the AirPods 2 is in the hands of the AirPower, which has reportedly been held back because of a myriad of engineering issues. Then again, while 2018 was likely a disappointment for some, all signs point to 2019 as the year when both of these products hit shelves.