Apple has been awarded a number of new patents, one of which suggests that the next AirPods – the so-called AirPods 3 – could come with a nifty feature for fitness fans.
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The true wireless earbuds could then communicate via Bluetooth with an iPhone, and "may form part of an AirPods system that supplies the user with coaching and feedback while evaluating user performance of a head movement routine or other exercise routine".
This could be particularly useful for exercises like yoga, with the AirPods providing realtime feedback on a user's head tilts, poses, and stretches.
This isn't the first time we've heard rumors of fitness features coming to future AirPods.
In May, a report by DigiTimes (opens in new tab) (via MacRumors (opens in new tab)) claimed that Apple is planning to fit ambient light sensors to future versions of the AirPods – sensors which could make them much more useful as health monitoring devices, akin to the best fitness headphones in the world.
While patents don't always translate into actual products coming to market, we're expecting to see a new AirPods model fairly soon – though whether the AirPods 3 will launch this year is still up for debate.
There have been rumors of the AirPods 3 crashing into the market before 2020 is out, but recent comments from industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo suggest we may be waiting a while longer – speculating that the next-gen AirPods would start mass production in early 2021, with a new AirPods Pro model (the rumored AirPods Pro Lite) arriving in 2022 too (via AppleInsider (opens in new tab)).
In any case, we'd love to see more fitness-focussed features in either of these rumored wireless earbuds – after all, the original AirPods design meant that they weren't particularly suitable for working out.