The AirPods 2 haven't yet been officially announced by Apple but, thanks to some new trademark and Bluetooth SIG filings, we know they're close. The trademark filings recently submitted in Europe and Hong Kong contain one crucial piece of information: a Class 10 designation. For those of you who don't speak trade filings, it means that the second-gen AirPods will be a health and fitness device, in addition to being a pair of true wireless earbuds. That designation is usually reserved for fitness trackers, so it's interesting that Apple is pursuing it for its earbuds.
The other piece of new info we have is that the AirPods recently cleared Bluetooth SIG Certification for Bluetooth 5.0. That's a small upgrade from the Bluetooth 4.2 version featured on the original Apple AirPods and could mean that the Apple AirPods 2 will last longer than before and stay connected when you move farther away from the source.
Apple has yet to make a formal announcement for the AirPods 2 (despite numerous opportunities to do so...) which means we'll likely need to wait until 2019 to get our hands on the new-and-improved true wireless buds.
Curious what else the second generation of Apple's true wireless earbuds might have in store for us? Read on below.
- Are there AirPod alternatives? Yep, here are the best true wireless earbuds
Apple AirPods 2 release date and price
- When are they out? The latest predictions indicate a 2019 release
- How much will they cost? Expect them to be similar to the existing AirPods at $159 / £159 / AU$229
With no official announcement of the AirPods 2 from Apple, we're left basing our predictions on leaks and industry reports.
The best guess we have right now, based on a report from a Barclays analyst, is a late 2019 launch – though with no word at either Apple's September 2018 iPhone event or October 2018 iPad launch, there's no telling when we'll get official word.
Apple AirPods 2: rumors, design and potential features
Despite their relatively-silly looking design, the Apple AirPods sold very well – you just have to jump on public transport and see just how many of them are poking out of music fans' ears on the way to work to note they've overcome any early online ridicule.
But improvements will need to be made in order to justify the release of a follow up. Here's all the potential features we've heard rumors of surrounding the AirPods 2 so far.
Better wireless connectivity
The anonymous sources that spoke to Bloomberg claimed that both the 2018 and 2019 updates are going to have better Bluetooth connectivity thanks to the inclusion of the W2 chip used in the Apple Watch 3.
This is an upgrade on the W1 chip that currently handles the AirPod wireless connectivity.
By the sounds of things, the Apple AirPods arriving in 2018 (AirPods 1.5?) are going to feature baked-in voice activation, meaning you'll be able to access Apple's voice assistant by just uttering "Hey Siri". We haven't caught wind of when, exactly, that feature will go live, but chances are good it will be available alongside the new wireless charging case in September or October of 2018.
Still working from the Bloomberg report, it looks like the 2019 update is going to have waterproofing, although it looks like it's going to be splash and rain resistant rather than true waterproofing like the Apple Watch, so no taking them in the pool with you. Still, that would make the second-gen AirPods a better workout-based headphone, and would mean that they'd be safe to wear around the pool without worrying about them getting splashed.
Back in July Apple filed a patent for biometric sensors which would allow the AirPods 2 to take on fitness tracking capabilities like those seen in the Jabra Elite Wireless. This followed another patent filed in March.
Perhaps more interestingly than heart rate sensing, the sensors would also allow the AirPods 2 to measure stroke volume, which combined with heart rate would allow it to calculate your cardiac output.
Essentially this means the AirPods 2 would theoretically be much better at establishing how fit you are overall rather than just measuring your heart rate.
Better ambient sound handling
The patent outlines a valve system that would allow sound to escape your ear canal to avoid that weird reverberating effect that occurs when you speak with earbuds in your ears.
The patent then goes on to describe how the earbuds would handle ambient noise, using a microphone to filter in noise from the outside world so that you can remain aware of your surroundings while still hearing your music.
Apple now supports wireless charging in some of its devices. Called AirPower, the new standard will support the iPhone X, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, Apple Watch 3 and the existing AirPods (via a new charging case).
Given that the standard supports the existing AirPods, we'd be surprised if the technology wasn't included as standard with the AirPods 2, allowing you to easily charge all your Apple products from a single charging pad.
- Apple October 2018 launch: the new iPad and Macbook as it happened