Today is the day when Apple announces cool new stuff from its headquarters in Cupertino, California. We’ve mainly been waiting on it to hear about the iPhone 14 and its variants plus the Apple Watch 8 and other Apple Watches, but intel we’ve received now points to a possible new AirPods Pro 2.
Noted Apple journalist Mark Gurman has said that a new AirPods Pro 2 announcement is basically a done deal. The invite list for Apple’s event today also includes specialist audio press, something that indicates important developments on the audio front and not just a basic AirPods Pro 2 upgrade.
As we wait for the event to start, here’s a list of upgrades we’d like to see incorporated in the AirPods Pro 2.
Despite Apple having its own Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC) to deliver high quality sound, all current AirPods use a basic form of Bluetooth with lossy, data-compressed audio. An upgrade to some form of lossless wireless technology would be a very welcome AirPods Pro upgrade, and it would certainly make it more appealing to music listeners who care about sound quality.
Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has stated that the AirPods Pro 2 will ship with ALAC support. There have also been rumblings about Apple working on some form of wireless transmission alternative to Bluetooth, so it’s possible that an upgrade along those lines is something we’ll hear about today.
Improved battery life
One major upgrade that’s anticipated for the iPhone 14 is much improved battery life – as in enough juice to give you 48 hours of use before a recharge is needed. Wouldn’t that be a cool feature to incorporate in the AirPods Pro 2?
The current Airpods Pro delivers an already impressive 25 hours of playback time, but if better battery life has been in the works for the iPhone 14, there’s good reason to hope that the same technology will be ported to the company’s AirPods lineup.
A new case
While the AirPods Pro 2 is expected to arrive with the regular Apple Lightning port instead of the more universal USB-C for charging, it nonetheless could have specific upgrades to make it more useful and appealing.
Leaked photos of a new AirPods Pro 2 case with speaker holes in the bottom indicate that the new model will have an AirTag-like ability to emit beeps. This will allow owners to locate it using the Find My app on an iOS device or Mac computer, much as you can do with an Apple Watch or iPhone.
Better active noise cancelling
Few AirPods Pro or Max owners would complain much about the quality of Apple’s noise-cancellation tech, but that’s also one area that can always be upgraded.
One thing that could be improved is the impact of noise cancellation on the Airpod Pro 2’s battery life. With all earbuds offering ANC, turning on that feature results in accelerated battery drain and a significant reduction in expected use time before recharging. Other related upgrades could involve controls used to activate ANC so you could easily switch it on or off, possibly using Siri voice commands or even hand gestures.
Bluetooth LE Audio support
The Bluetooth Special Interest Group recently issued final specifications for Bluetooth LE, a next-gen version promising numerous performance enhancements for wireless headphones and earbuds. There’s a very good chance that we’ll see Bluetooth LE implemented in the AirPods Pro 2, and that it will provide a significant upgrade over the AirPods Pro when it comes to sound quality and features.
Bluetooth LE incorporates the new LC3 codec, which will allow for better audio quality at lower data rates (and with less power consumption). It will also introduce Auracast, a tech that can broadcast a synchronized audio stream to multiple headphones. While the advantage to better Bluetooth sound quality is clear – especially if lossless audio isn’t happening for the AirPods Pro 2 – the benefits to Auracast are equally compelling, and include the ability to tune in to audio broadcasts in public spaces like museums, concert halls, sporting events, and more.
What other upgrades can we expect to see in the AirPods Pro 2? The list includes a new design with better fit for high-impact sports like running, advanced fitness tracking features, and quite possibly a whole lot more. We’ll see shortly when we tune in to Apple’s launch event!
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Al Griffin has been writing about and reviewing A/V tech since the days LaserDiscs roamed the earth, and was previously the editor of Sound & Vision magazine.
When not reviewing the latest and greatest gear or watching movies at home, he can usually be found out and about on a bike.