When it comes to Apple and audio, the company’s recent history points to one big success, the truly wireless Apple AirPods, as well as one major disappointment, the Apple HomePod. But regardless of how well each has done sales-wise, both products are headed for a significant refresh in the coming months, according to a report from Bloomberg.
The most recent update of the AirPods was a conservative one, to say the least. They added a longer talk time and the ability to summon Siri with just your voice. Buyers could also add an optional wireless charging case for an extra $40. Their newest competitors, like the JLab Epic Air Sport, are heads-and-shoulders better when it comes to overall battery life, water resistance, and, in the case of the Sony WF-1000XM3, active noise-cancellation (ANC). In response, Apple is reportedly going to release a noise-canceling, water-resistant version of the AirPods that will sell for more than the current model. Just how much more is still unknown.
The new AirPods might be borrowing their water resistance from Apple’s next iPhone, which, according to the same sources, will have significantly improved water resistance when compared to the current batch of iPhones.
Apple’s HomePod, which we think is an excellent speaker save for its incompatibility with any music service that isn’t owned and operated by Apple, aa well as its high price, will also be getting overhauled. In this case, however, it might be a case of less is more.
The Siri-powered smart speaker will be retooled with fewer tweeters, dropping from a total of seven to just two. How this will affect the HomePod’s 360-degree sound is unknown, but there’s no way it will sound the same as the current model. Along with the drop in tweeters, will be a drop in price.
Currently, the HomePod costs $299, which has proven a tough sell for Apple despite a price drop from the speaker’s launch price of $349. The HomePod’s chief competitor is the $199 Sonos One, a smart speaker that is compatible with both Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant and can be used with a variety of music services including Apple Music, Spotify, Google Play, Amazon Music, and many others.
A $199 HomePod would likely be very popular, but we suspect that at this price, Apple will introduce it as a separate type of HomePod — perhaps a HomePod Mini — instead of eliminating the current HomePod design. Both Amazon and Google have had success with a multitiered approach to their smart speakers, the Echo and the Google Home, respectively.
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