When will it be time for new AirPods? Although we're not sold on the look of the Apple AirPods, there's no denying that they're one of the best new gadgets of the last couple of years and we've found ourselves using them constantly.
Completely wire-free? Check. Compact charging case? Check. Seamless connection? Check. Use one as an earpiece? Check. Great for calls? Check. In fact, the only problem with them in a practical sense is the fear that you might misplace them.
Indeed, all evidence suggests that AirPods are actually doing rather well in the sales stakes. Research firm NPD suggested that AirPods accounted for 85 per cent of the US wireless headphone market in the first half of 2017. Barclays predicts Apple to sell around 30 million units this year, and suggests Apple could cut the price of the current model, in the build-up to a new pair being released.
Apple AirPods 2 release date
- We were expecting new AirPods in September, but it could be later in the year or early 2019 now
We thought we were going to get new AirPods alongside Apple's AirPower charging mat at Apple's 2018 iPhone launch on 12 September. Turns out we were wrong; neither appeared.
Why is AirPower significant for new iPods? Because the AirPower mat will be AirPod compatible. We know this because of Apple's own AirPower image that it released last September (yes, in 2017) when it first talked about AirPower alongside the launch of the iPhone X and iPhone 8.
So clearly there will be a new AirPod case that will be wireless charging-compatible. That means that even if the headphones don't change, we will definitely have a new case because the current unit isn't compatible with wireless charging.
Reports suggest that the case will work with any Qi-compatible wireless charger which would be most handy.
In the beta of iOS 12 there are images of an AirPods case with a status indicator light, as spotted by 9to5Mac. In some of the images, the dot appears brown, but in other ones, the dot is noticeably more green. The current case does not have a light on the exterior - instead there's an internal status light.
New AirPods features: Is noise cancelling on the cards?
- Touch-free Siri control
- Noise cancelling
According to Bloomberg, Apple is planning other upgrades to the new AirPods. It's suggested that you'll be able to summon Siri through the "Hey Siri" command, rather than tapping one of the earbuds. This might be a software update which will be available for the existing AirPods, although it would certainly have an impact on battery life.
Bloomberg believes they are known as B288 internally. Apple recently rounded on internal leakers and this leak of information in February is sure to have displeased many at Apple.
As well as a 2018 update with the wireless charging capability, there may be all-new AirPods in 2019 with noise cancelling - this will be a more premium option for people to choose from, according to Bloomberg.
The report says Apple will use physical analogue methods, as opposed to active noise cancellation, so we wouldn't expect them to be as effective as other noise-cancelling in-ear headphones, from the likes from Sony and Bose.
Bloomberg also claims that Apple is intending to introduce a set of Apple-branded over-ear headphones and will be a different option to the company's existing Beats lineup. Reports suggest these headphones are facing delays and are now due to launch in 2019.
Will the new AirPods be waterproof?
- Waterproofing seems a certanty
There are continued rumours that a version of the new AirPods will also be waterproof, which would be rather cool if you could take them swimming with Apple Watch Series 2 and 3 swim tracking. More likely, though they will be splash and sweatproof.
Bloomberg seems to suggest this upgrade may not come with the "wireless charging case" refresh, but there could be a further new version released in 2019.
While a lot of people do take them running, the current AirPods don't claim to be water or sweat resistant - that's the job of Apple's PowerBeats 3 earphones.
AirPods are fine for exercise (and indeed they will withstand full immersion in water for a short time), but they are not sweatproof. Sweat is like kryptonite to many earphones - although we have been running in our AirPods a couple of times.
Bloomberg's report also says that Apple is looking at ways to integrate extra sensors such as a heart-rate monitor, but it's not clear if this will make it into the second-generation pair.