The rumored Apple AirPods Studio – AKA, the first Apple over-ear headphones – will come with the ultra wideband UI chip found in the iPhone 11, according to proven leaker and Twitter user @L0vetodream.
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As well as that, the leaker claims that the UI chip could allow the AirPods Studio to detect how they're being worn in relation to the user's head. In a tweet translated from Chinese, they said that new products in the Apple ecosystem " will use U1 to determine distance and direction, similar to AirPods' spatial audio function in iOS 14".
"It is likely that the new headset with the U1 chip should be able to automatically recognize the left and right positioning of the headset," they continued.
That means you could wear the AirPods Studio any way you want, and the left / right audio channels would automatically switch to the correct ear – and it could make rumored 'air gestures' more accurate, by taking the rotation of the headphones into account.
Spatial audio smarts
Another AirPods Studio feature that could come courtesy of the UI chip is Spatial Audio, which has recently come to the AirPods Pro.
Released as part of iOS 14, the Spatial Audio feature works in 5.1, 7.1, and Dolby Atmos, which positions sound all around you within a virtual sphere – that means that if you're watching a Dolby Atmos film that shows a plane flying overheard, it will sound as though the plane is really passing above you.
If the AirPods Studio have the ability to track exactly how they're being worn, that Spatial Audio feature could be used accurately, no matter which way round you're wearing your headphones.
The use of the UI chip and Apple's apparent focus on directional audio also hints at another product that could be in the pipeline: the Apple Glasses.
The rumored AR (Augmented Reality) specs could be designed to work with the AirPods Pro and the AirPods Studio if they do come with Spatial Audio, vastly enhancing the experience of using them. For example, your headphones could give you simple audio cues with Maps directions, or you could lose yourself in an immersive AR experience complete with Dolby Atmos surround sound.
AirPods Studio (codename: B515)- High quality leather / metal- Magnetic ear cups- Reversible - detects R/L ear- No headphone jack- USBC portThese are the renders we were making in order to protect the source. pic.twitter.com/6Abg2TgxiZSeptember 16, 2020
When will we see the AirPods Studio?
The Apple AirPods Studio are rumored to launch in October 2020, alongside the iPhone 12 – though Apple is yet to confirm their existence, let alone a release date.
Saying that, we're pretty confident that the over-ear headphones will be released this year, especially now that images of the AirPods Studio have been leaked.
The images show square housings with rounded corners rather than the typical round or oval housings seen on most over-ear headphones, metallic housings, and a padded headband.
If these images are accurate, the AirPods Studio look pretty different to what we expected from Apple – and in terms of aesthetic, worlds away from the AirPods – and we can't wait to see them in the flesh.