Update: Apple's annual September launch event came and went, with plenty of airtime for the next generation of iPhones – iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR – but no mention of the new AirPods model just yet.
Analysts predict a late 2019 release, but that window will look less likely if we don't hear an announcement over the next few months. For now, we've run through our predictions and expectations for the next AirPods in the rest of the article below...
With the iPhone 7, Apple ditched the headphone jack and introduced the the Apple AirPods, declaring out and out war on wires at the same time. A couple of years on, is the world now ready for the Apple AirPods 2?
Apple wasn't the first to come up with this ‘true wireless’ form-factor, but – as is typical of Apple – the company’s entry into the market sparked a flurry of activity and plenty of copycat attempts.
With the segment now increasingly crowded, Apple is going to have to up its game if it wants to impress with an AirPods follow-up – while the wireless connectivity and audio quality are solid, we still have some reservations about their reliance on Siri and their overall fit.
Those misgivings could get swept away with the Apple AirPods 2. Rumors have been circulating like crazy about the AirPods 2, and we've been diligently following each story as it breaks.
From what we can put together, Apple is planning to launch a water-resistant pair of Apple AirPods in late 2019 – an inkling corroborated by a Barclays report released in late August. Before then, Apple is likely to release a wireless charging case for the original AirPods and add a "Hey, Siri" feature that will allow you to summon the smart assistant without tapping.
Pundits expected the anticipation to pay off at Apple's September 12 event where the Cupertino-based company unveiled the next generation of AirPower-ready iPhones – but the AirPods were oddly absent.
Curious what else the second generation of Apple's true wireless earbuds might have in store for us? Read on below.
- Want some AirPod alternatives? These are the best true wireless earbuds around
Apple AirPods 2 release date and price
- When are they out? The latest predictions indicate a 2019 release
- How much will they cost? Expect them to be similar to the existing AirPods at $159 / £159 / AU$229
With no official announcement of the AirPods 2 from Apple, we're left basing our predictions on leaks and industry reports.
The best guess we have right now, based on a report from a Barclays analyst, is a late 2019 launch – though we're keeping our eyes peeled for Apple's September 2018 iPhone event, taking place on Wednesday 12 September. We'll keep you posted on what we see at it, but we're expecting an iPhone XS to be revealed as the follow up to the iPhone X.
Apple AirPods 2: rumors, design and potential features
Despite their relatively-silly looking design, the Apple AirPods sold very well – you just have to jump on public transport and see just how many of them are poking out of music fans' ears on the way to work to note they've overcome any early online ridicule.
But improvements will need to be made in order to justify the release of a follow up. Here's all the potential features we've heard rumors of surrounding the AirPods 2 so far.
Better wireless connectivity
The anonymous sources that spoke to Bloomberg claimed that both the 2018 and 2019 updates are going to have better Bluetooth connectivity thanks to the inclusion of the W2 chip used in the Apple Watch 3.
This is an upgrade on the W1 chip that currently handles the AirPod wireless connectivity.
By the sounds of things, the Apple AirPods arriving in 2018 (AirPods 1.5?) are going to feature baked-in voice activation, meaning you'll be able to access Apple's voice assistant by just uttering "Hey Siri". We haven't caught wind of when, exactly, that feature will go live, but chances are good it will be available alongside the new wireless charging case in September or October of 2018.
Still working from the Bloomberg report, it looks like the 2019 update is going to have waterproofing, although it looks like it's going to be splash and rain resistant rather than true waterproofing like the Apple Watch, so no taking them in the pool with you. Still, that would make the second-gen AirPods a better workout-based headphone, and would mean that they'd be safe to wear around the pool without worrying about them getting splashed.
Back in July Apple filed a patent for biometric sensors which would allow the AirPods 2 to take on fitness tracking capabilities like those seen in the Jabra Elite Wireless. This followed another patent filed in March.
Perhaps more interestingly than heart rate sensing, the sensors would also allow the AirPods 2 to measure stroke volume, which combined with heart rate would allow it to calculate your cardiac output.
Essentially this means the AirPods 2 would theoretically be much better at establishing how fit you are overall rather than just measuring your heart rate.
Better ambient sound handling
The patent outlines a valve system that would allow sound to escape your ear canal to avoid that weird reverberating effect that occurs when you speak with earbuds in your ears.
The patent then goes on to describe how the earbuds would handle ambient noise, using a microphone to filter in noise from the outside world so that you can remain aware of your surroundings while still hearing your music.
Apple now supports wireless charging in some of its devices. Called AirPower, the new standard will support the iPhone X, iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, Apple Watch 3 and the existing AirPods (via a new charging case).
Given that the standard supports the existing AirPods, we'd be surprised if the technology wasn't included as standard with the AirPods 2, allowing you to easily charge all your Apple products from a single charging pad.