At 7 am PT on October 30, Apple hosted its fourth event this year, with the California tech giant launching a new iPad Pro, a new MacBook Air, and a new Mac Mini.
As great as those products may be, we feel another, which was floating in the background of the rumor mill for the past few months, would have gone further to support continuing Apple’s history of innovation: The AirPods 2. Here are four reasons we think Apple’s second-generation true wireless headphones should have made an appearance.
They are among the only truly innovative products Apple has
Incremental updates to once-genre-busting products like the iPad Pro, MacBook Air, and Mac Mini are exciting, but we’ve been seriously missing the kind of innovation that Steve Jobs brought during his final years at Apple. In fact, in 2018, the AirPods are among the only truly innovative products Apple has released since Job’s passing. True wireless headphones are a new tech frontier, and Apple should aggressively seek to dominate that market, just it does with its tablet, phone, and notebook products.
The AirPods are long in the tooth
When the AirPods first hit the market, precious few competing true wireless headphones worked at all, let alone worked well. Coming out as the best quickly nabbed the AirPods the top spot in the market, but since then, numerous options that look, function, and sound better than Apple’s wireless in-ears have emerged.
New options now come with built-in smart assistants, heart rate sensors, better form factors, and much better passive noise isolation, all things that might cause would-be AirPod buyers to closely consider the competition.
Qualcomm’s new chip can double battery life
The next generation of true wireless headphones should start hitting the street early next year, and many of them will be fueled by a brand new set of purpose-built chips from Qualcomm, the most exciting of which offers twice the power efficiency of models currently on the market.
That means that instead of a measly 4-5 hours of listening time per charge (the AirPods still rank among the best on the market with five hours), we could start to see options with upwards of 10 hours. Oh, and by the way, Qualcomm says the chip will also be cheaper, meaning we could see headphones with double the battery life for significantly less money than a current set of AirPods.
Apple did extremely well with the first generation of its proprietary W1 chip, using it to create a set of true wireless headphones that worked well and offered industry-leading battery life, but if it doesn’t keep up with the Joneses — either by using this new Qualcomm chip or by releasing a pair of headphones with an equivalent proprietary one — we expect many consumers will choose newer, more affordable, more efficient options.
We need waterproofing and earfins
Perhaps the biggest thorn in the side of the current generation of AirPods is that they aren’t waterproof.
One of the places we enjoy using true wireless headphones most is during sweaty workouts and outdoor adventures, but the AirPods simply don’t compete with the latest models from Jabra and others in this regard.
The first generation AirPods don’t come with any form of waterproof rating, and they don’t offer earfins to stay securely in your ears even if you are willing to risk water damaging during a workout. Without an update, we’re still forced to recommend other brands, even to Apple users, because they’re better steeled against the rigors of life.
Why we’re optimistic
We’ve been hearing rumors about the next generation of Apple AirPods for over a year, and there’s significant evidence that the company is hard at work on a new model. We’ve seen various patent filings — including one that looks a lot like a sport-focused AirPod model — and a good amount of believable evidence that an update is coming.
No doubt Apple realizes how good the competition has become. What remains to be seen is whether the company is prepared to remain relevant. We didn’t get an update at the October 30 event, but, hopefully, the AirPods 2 will be the “one more thing” we always look forward to sometime soon.
The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.