AirPods are popular because they exemplify what Apple is all about: high-quality products with great features that work without fuss. And while you may not think of earbuds and headphones as the types of products that would be updated with new features on a regular basis, Apple does a great job of integrating them into its ecosystem, and new versions bring more functionality. Here’s what we know about the next AirPods releases.
June 30: Ming-Chi Kuo reports (via AppleInsider) that the second-gen AirPods Pro won’t arrive until 2022, a bit later than they were initially expected.
2022 AirPods Pro (2nd generation)
Availability: Apparently, Apple had planned on shipping the second-generation AirPods Pro this year, but Bloomberg reported in May 2021 that it won’t ship until 2022. Ming-Chi Kuo echoed that timeline in a note to investors in late June.
Design: Bloomberg reported that the next AirPods Pro will not have any stems and could look a lot like the new Beats Studio Buds that were recently unveiled, with a design that sits flush with the ear.
Features: Apple will continue to differentiate the AirPods Pro with noise cancellation after the third-gen AirPods arrived without it. According to Bloomberg, the next AirPods Pro will focus more on fitness tracking and have updated motion sensors as well.
Price: No reports of price have been made. The current model is $249, but they are frequently on sale. The new Beats Studio Buds are $150, so it’s possible Apple could do a small price reduction. Apple technically reduced the price of the 3rd-gen AirPods to $179 (the 2nd-gen model with the wireless charging case was $199) but eliminated the lower-cost option with the wired case.
2022 AirPods Max (2nd generation)
The AirPods Max was released in late 2020, so it’s unlikely that a new model will launch until late 2022, based on Apple’s AirPods cadence. However, Bloomberg reported in May that while Apple is not working on any design or feature updates, Apple could release new colors to refresh the product mid-cycle.
2022 AirPods: Apple Music Lossless
Apple launched Lossless Audio and Lossless High-Res Audio for Apple Music in June, but due to the limitations of Bluetooth and the AAC codec, none of the current AirPods are able to stream the higher-quality tracks. However, Jon Prosser reported that Apple is working on a new audio codec that would allow lossless streaming over AirPods, which could get an introduction alongside the new models. It’s unclear whether such a new feature would be limited to new AirPods, but if Apple opts to use Wi-Fi and AirPlay 2 to enable Lossless audio, that would require new hardware. All AirPods models are able to enjoy Spatial Audio for music and video
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Roman has covered technology since the early 1990s. His career started at MacUser, and he's worked for MacAddict, Mac|Life, and TechTV.