Apple’s AirPods 2 Set to Launch Soon With Advanced Tracking Features

The earphones are about to become your sports companion.

Apple could update its AirPods wireless headphones as soon as the first half of this year, a Wednesday report claimed. The updated headphones are expected to feature health monitoring functions, a move that would shift the product away from a simple audio player and more into an all-encompassing wearable.

The upgrade would be the first major revision of the product since its launch in December 2016, and it comes as the wearables market is seeing big growth. The DigiTimes report states that revenue from Apple’s two wearable products, AirPods and the Apple Watch, grew 50 percent year-over-year in 2018. The report does not explain what sort of health features the headphones may include, but a December 2018 analyst report from Ming-Chi Kuo stated that the ear is a “perfect sensing area for detecting various health data,” while also claiming that the biometric-sensing earbuds would launch in the first half of 2019.

AirPods automatically connect to the user's iPhone.
AirPods automatically connect to the user's iPhone.

See more: New Apple Patent Hints at an AirPods 2 Case With an Unexpected Feature

The AirPods could also improve on the audio aspect in a number of ways. A June report from Bloomberg claimed that Apple would include water resistance to protect against small splashes and rain. The headphones may also work from a further distance than the current models, which use a W1 chip to connect over Bluetooth 4.0. Alongside the health monitoring features, Apple could also include noise cancellation and wireless charging via the case. These additions could drive the price up past the current $159 mark, particularly in the case of another rumored set of over-ear headphones.

A number of details suggest Apple could make such a move soon. The company filed trademarks in Europe and Hong Kong in November 2018 that placed the earbuds under a “Class 10” categorization to indicate a wellness product, while also claiming that the headphones would use Bluetooth 5 connectivity. A January 2019 patent also showed an AirPods case acting as a wireless charger for another device. A further patent showed the rumored over-ear headphones described by Apple.

With Apple also expected to reveal two entry-level iPads this year, the company may have a big start to the year ahead of its annual Worldwide Developers Conference in the summer.

The annual conference has previously worked as a springboard for new operating system launches. If AirPods grow more advanced, could we see the launch of a podOS?