The Apple AirPods Pro 2 will come with a variety of new features, according to the latest leaks, including support for Apple Lossless (ALAC) audio and a charging case that shows up in the Find My app so you can see its location if it gets lost.
This comes from well-respected analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (via MacRumors (opens in new tab)), who has told investors that the new premium earbuds are going to get a redesign, and will be unveiled in the fourth quarter of 2022 – so October, November or December.
None of the current AirPods are able to support lossless audio streaming, including the latest Apple AirPods 3. It's possible that the AirPods Pro 2 will use a different streaming protocol to Bluetooth in order to maintain a stable, high fidelity stream.
Still on track for 2022
As for the case tracking capabilities, it sounds as though the AIrPods Pro 2 case will borrow a few features from the AirTag: you'll be able to see it on a map in the Find My app, and you'll be able to get it to make a beeping noise if it gets misplaced.
In regards to the new form factor teased by Kuo, this is something we've heard rumors about before. The speculation is that the stems that were attached to the original AirPods Pro won't make it to their successors.
The AirPods Pro 2 were originally tipped to appear in the third quarter of 2022, but Kuo has now settled on later in the year as a more likely launch window. That would mean the earbuds launching around three years after the original AirPods Pro.
Analysis: everyone else is playing catch up
They may not pull in as many millions of dollars as the iPhone series, but there's no doubt that the AirPods have been a huge hit for Apple. The long-awaited launch of the AirPods Pro 2 will give even more momentum to the wireless earbud product range.
With the AirPods 3 providing a refresh for the standard earbuds in October 2021, and the AirPods Max launching in December 2020 for those who want a higher-quality listening experience, Apple has now got most bases covered. Even with those other products around, however, we'd still expect the AirPods Pro 2 to prove very popular.
Just about every other manufacturer makes their own version of the AirPods now, from the Pixel Buds A-Series from Google to the Galaxy Buds 2 made by Samsung, but at the moment its Apple's earbuds that stand out. Once a new pair appears on the market, that puts even more pressure on the competitors.
Of course the right wireless earbuds for you depend to some extent on the smartphone that you want to use them with. Just like the Apple Watch, the AirPods offer a level of seamless integration with the iPhone that no one else can match.