Although we're not totally sold on the look of the Apple AirPods, there's no denying that they're one of the best new gadgets of the last few 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 is that they're very easy to misplace.
And, if you own a pair, you'll know the "AirPod fear" as you check each pocket of your bag to try and find them!
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 in 2018.
Apple AirPods 2 release date
- Rumours continue to swirl about a pre-Christmas launch
- More likely in early-2019
The AirPods have been out of stock in several European countries during the Autumn, but the new versions weren't announced alongside the new iPad Pro. They remain in stock across the UK though; a quick glance around the web shows AirPods still available from all key retailers.
Rumours suggested a late 2018 launch. Renowned and reliable rumourmonger Ice Universe tweeted that "Apple will definitely launch AirPods 2 this year", but that's it.
A form submitted to the organisation behind Bluetooth (the Bluetooth Special Interest Group to be accurate) mentions AirPods and two Apple product numbers - A2031 and A2032. The form was submitted on 1 November, meaning release can't be far away.
Familiar analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has now said that AirPods 2 will arrive in early 2019 - and has often been accurate on such things.
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. Same again at Apple's October event where we got the aforementioned new iPad Pro alongside a redesigned MacBook Air and Mac Mini.
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 from September 2017 when it first talked about AirPower alongside the launch of the iPhone X and iPhone 8.
That image showed a new AirPod case that would be wireless charging-compatible (even if the AirPods themselves didn't actually change). But there's one huge problem - AirPower hasn't appeared and some pundits are saying it's dead in the water because of overheating problems that Apple hasn't been able to resolve.
Reports suggest that the case could work with any Qi-compatible wireless charger which would be most handy.
In the beta of iOS 12 there were images of an AirPods case with a status indicator light, as spotted by 9to5Mac, although the new AirPods didn't appear alongside iOS 12 or iOS 12.1. 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: Noise cancelling and fitness smarts?
- Noise cancelling for a premium option
- Fitness tracking possible
According to Bloomberg, Apple is planning other upgrades to the second-generation AirPods. It's suggested that you'll be able to summon Siri through the "Hey Siri" command, rather than tapping one of the earbuds (if you have an Apple Watch, note that watchOS 5 enables you to talk to Siri when you raise your wrist). They may also assist fitness tracking in some way.
Trademark filings in Europe and Hong Kong suggest AirPods 2 could have health tracking sensors. That's because the trademark classification covers "General wellness instruments, namely, health, fitness, exercise, and wellness sensors". So AirPods could help track calories and steps even if you don't have an Apple Watch.
A second version of the new AirPods may also debut with noise cancelling - probably a more premium option. The report suggests 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. We certainly don't expect them before Christmas now.
Will the new AirPods be waterproof?
- Waterproofing seems a certainty
- May be sweat proof as well
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, 3 and 4 swim tracking. More likely though, they will be splash and sweatproof.
#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.