Apple will release redesigned AirPods in 2021 and follow up in 2022 with a new version of AirPods Pro, according to a new report from Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman and Debby Wu, citing people “in the know.”
The new AirPods would have shorter stems on each ear, bringing them closer to the look of AirPods Pro. And Apple has tested an AirPods Pro design that completely misses the stems. Bloomberg sources claim that the stemless design will make its first appearance in Beats headphones to be announced in June.
The non-Pro AirPods would also have a new case design, and the AirPods Pro would feature new motion-detection technology that would be used for fitness tracking.
It seems that earbuds and in-ear headphones are the immediate focus, but not new over-ear headphones. Apple launched its over-ear headphones, AirPods Max, late last year. According to the sources, Apple is not currently working on a new version of it.
Apple classifies AirPods as wearables and covers the same product category within the company as the Apple Watch. Every time Apple reports its quarterly results to shareholders, this category is one of the two biggest growth areas for the company, next to services.
As the Bloomberg story also notes, Apple now brings in $30 billion in annual revenue from wearables alone. However, the iPhone still dominates the company’s revenue. Wearables account for just over 10 percent of sales.
The report doesn’t provide much more detail about the features or specifications of the new AirPods products, or about when they might arrive.
Usually, but not always, Apple announces products at four major events throughout the year. The first, usually in March or April, often focuses on iPads. The second — the company’s June developer conference called WWDC — focuses primarily on software, but often includes new services and sometimes Macs or Mac accessories.
Subsequently, the company recently held two events between September and November, one focusing on the new iPhone and Apple Watch range, and the other a grab bag of other consumer products such as Macs or iPad models not appearing earlier in the year.
New AirPods would most likely be appropriate for the iPhone/Apple Watch event, but it’s impossible to know that they wouldn’t be coming to WWDC or some other event instead.
The original AirPods were announced in September 2016 along with the iPhone 7 and Apple Watch Series 2. AirPods Pro was announced with a simple press release, not a live event, in October 2019.
List image by Jeff Dunn