We’ll see new versions of both the entry-level Apple AirPods and the AirPods Pro in 2021, according to a new report from Bloomberg.
Citing unnamed sources within Apple who are purported to be familiar with the company’s audio plans, the AirPods could inherit some of the AirPods Pro’s design cues, with a shorter external stem and, most notably, an in-ear format with swappable silicone tips.
This has been rumored in the past, which suggests there’s some weight to the idea. However, an in-ear style might alienate some buyers who prefer the current design because of its lack of an ear canal-sealing tip. The report also claims that Apple is working on ways to improve battery life. Currently, AirPods and AirPods Pro get about 5 hours of operation before needing to be recharged, a number that is falling lower and lower against the industry average.
The second-generation AirPods Pros will purportedly lose their stem entirely as Apple moves toward a more round shape that Bloomberg says may resemble products from Samsung, Amazon, and Google. However, the report cautions that challenges with this new, more compact shape may prevent Apple from entirely removing the stems.
Along with the predictions around Apple’s true wireless products, the report also claimed that it could be a while before we see the highly anticipated AirPods Studio, Apple’s rumored first attempt at a high-end set of noise-canceling headphones.
“The headphones were due to go into production weeks ago,” the report said, “but that was pushed back due to problems with the headband […] that part was deemed too tight in some testing.”
Also included in the post is speculation around Apple’s HomePod business. It claims that Apple is mulling a new HomePod speaker that would occupy the middle ground between the new $99 HomePod mini and the larger $299 HomePod.
Such a move would make sense given that both Amazon and Google have been experimenting with different designs and prices for their respective smart speaker products. Recently, Amazon launched new versions of its Echo and Echo Dot, with new spherical shapes that are reminiscent of Apple’s HomePod mini. Google also just launched a new $100 smart speaker, the Nest Audio.
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