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New Apple AirPods 2: When will we get the second-gen earphones?

Pocket-lint logo Pocket-lint 18/1/2019
a hand holding a remote control © Pocket-lint

There will be new AirPods early in 2019. Although we're not totally sold on the look of the Apple AirPods, there's no denying that they're one of the best new gadgets of the last few years and we've found ourselves using them constantly.  

Completely wire-free? Check. Compact charging case? Check. Seamless connection? Check. Use one as an earpiece? Check. Great for calls? Check. In fact, the only problem with them is that they're very easy to misplace. If you own a pair, you'll know the "AirPod fear" as you check each pocket of your bag to try and find them. 

All evidence suggests that AirPods are actually doing rather well in the sales stakes. Research firm NPD suggested that AirPods accounted for 85 per cent of the US wireless headphone market in the first half of 2017. Barclays predicted that Apple would sell around 30 million units in 2018.

Apple AirPods 2 release date 

  • Due in early 2019
  • Will probably launch alongside AirPower

The AirPods were out of stock in several European countries during the Autumn, but the new versions weren't announced alongside the new iPad Proredesigned MacBook Air and Mac Mini

A late 2018 launch was originally nailed on, but that has now slipped to 2019. Why? Well, it looks like new AirPods will emerge alongside Apple's much-delayed AirPower charging mat which has now gone into production. Turns out we were wrong; neither appeared.

Why is AirPower significant for new iPods? Because the AirPower mat will be AirPod compatible even though reports suggest that the case could work with any Qi-compatible wireless charger.

We know that the next-generation AirPods will be able to be wirelessly charged because of Apple's own AirPower image from September 2017 below. That was when Apple first talked about AirPower alongside the launch of the iPhone X and iPhone 8.

a close up of a cell phone: New Apple AirPods When will we get the second-gen version of Apples wonderbuds image 2 © Provided by Pocket-lint New Apple AirPods When will we get the second-gen version of Apples wonderbuds image 2

A form submitted to the organisation behind Bluetooth (the Bluetooth Special Interest Group to be accurate) mentions AirPods and two Apple product numbers - A2031 and A2032. The form was submitted on 1 November, meaning the AirPods release date can't be far away. 

In the beta of iOS 12, there were images of an AirPods case with a status indicator light, as spotted by 9to5Mac. In some of the images, the dot appears brown, but in other ones, the dot is noticeably more green. The current, original AirPods case does not have a light on the exterior - instead, there's an internal status light.

New AirPods features: Noise cancelling and fitness smarts?

  • Noise cancelling for a premium option
  • Fitness tracking possible

According to Bloomberg, you'll be able to summon Siri through the "Hey Siri" command with AirPods 2, rather than tapping one of the earbuds (if you have an Apple Watch, note that watchOS 5 enables you to talk to Siri when you raise your wrist). They may also assist fitness tracking in some way.

Trademark filings in Europe and Hong Kong suggest AirPods 2 could have health tracking sensors. That's because the trademark classification covers "General wellness instruments, namely, health, fitness, exercise, and wellness sensors". So AirPods could help track calories and steps even if you don't have an Apple Watch. 

A second version of the new AirPods may also debut with noise cancelling - probably a more premium option. The report suggests Apple will use physical analogue methods, as opposed to active noise cancellation, so we wouldn't expect them to be as effective as other noise-cancelling in-ear headphones, from the likes from Sony and Bose. 

Bloomberg also claims that Apple is intending to introduce a set of Apple-branded over-ear headphones and will be a different option to the company's existing Beats lineup

Will the new AirPods be waterproof?

  • A fitness version is a no-brainer
  • Waterproof as well?

There are continued rumours that a version of the new AirPods will also be waterproof, which would be rather cool if you could take them swimming with Apple Watch Series 2, 3 and 4 swim tracking. More likely though, they will be splash and sweatproof.

While a lot of people do take them running, the current AirPods don't claim to be water or sweat resistant - that's the job of Apple's PowerBeats 3 earphones.

AirPods are fine for exercise (and indeed they will withstand full immersion in water for a short time), but they are not sweatproof. Sweat is like kryptonite to many earphones - although we have been running in our AirPods a couple of times and have had no issues whatsoever.

Bloomberg's report also says that Apple is looking at ways to integrate extra sensors such as a heart-rate monitor, but it's not clear if this will make it into the second-generation pair. 

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