Apple patent suggests AirPods Max 2 headphones will use touch controls

Apple airpods max
(Image credit: Apple)

According to a recently discovered patent, the Apple AirPods Max 2 headphones could come with touch controls.

When the original Airpods Max was released many - us included - were surprised to see that Apple decided to eschew touch controls in favor of a more retro-style control dial inspired by the Apple Watch’s Digital Crown.

Now, according to information uncovered by Patently Apple (via What HiFi), it appears even more likely that Apple will abandon the dial in favor of touch controls for its next pair of over-ear headphones. The latest patent shows how a touch-sensitive surface could be used to control a headset-shaped device - that looks incredibly similar to the AirPods Max.

Goodbye, Digital Crown?

apple airpods max

The Digital Crown on the AirPods Max. (Image credit: Apple)

Apple already has two other touch control patents. One relates to touch controls for volume and another is about a smart fabric for over-ear headphones that can detect touch-based gestures. 

While patents are by no means a confirmation that a certain feature or device will launch we’d be surprised if Apple spent all this time developing touch controls for wireless headphones to then never use them in one of its gadgets.

Combined with the fact that touch controls are becoming an increasingly common feature on both over-ear headphones and wireless earbuds - the AirPods 3, and AirPods Pro both use touch controls for example - we’re pretty confident the next Apple headphones will use them. Saying that, the so-called AirPods Pro 2 are rumored to be coming with some pretty ingenious gesture controls that could do away with the need to touch the earbuds themselves altogether. 

While the physical dial brought with it a sense of audiophile credibility by invoking more old-school design aesthetics we’re intrigued to see how Apple will modernize its next over-ear headphones.

For now, though, we’ll have to wait and see what Apple announces as it has yet to even publicly declare it is working on a follow-up to the AirPods Max. Hopefully, we’ll find out soon as the patents and rumors have us excited to see what it has in store for us next.

Hamish Hector
Senior Staff Writer, News

Hamish is a Senior Staff Writer for TechRadar and you’ll see his name appearing on articles across nearly every topic on the site from smart home deals to speaker reviews to graphics card news and everything in between. He uses his broad range of knowledge to help explain the latest gadgets and if they’re a must-buy or a fad fueled by hype. Though his specialty is writing about everything going on in the world of virtual reality and augmented reality.