Apple’s Airpods to Get Huge Upgrades

Jordan Michaels February 23, 2018
Apple’s Airpods to Get Huge Upgrades

Apple Inc. is working on upgrades to its wireless AirPods headphones as the company seeks to bolster its wearables business.

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

The Cupertino, California-based technology giant is working on a new version for release as soon as this year with an upgraded wireless chip, the people said. A succeeding 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 first AirPods include a chip known as the W1, and Apple released the W2 with the Apple Watch last year.

The idea of the water-resistant model is for the headphones to survive splashes of water and rain. They likely won’t be designed to be underwater. The latest iPhones can survive splashes, while the Apple Watch is considered "swim-proof." Apple’s plans could change or be delayed.

The AirPods are designed by the same department that produced the HomePod speaker. Apple introduced the first AirPods in 2016 alongside the iPhone 7 as a way to replace the traditionally 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 Corp., Samsung Electronics Co.

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.

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Jordan Michaels


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