Apple announced the second generation of its wireless earphones, the AirPods, in March with a new chip, Hey Siri control, 50 per cent more talk time and an optional wireless charging case.

The second gen AirPods miss a couple of rumoured features though. Will these features come to the AirPods 3 instead? Here's everything we know so far.

Quick summary

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman claims Apple is working on a future version of the wireless earphones that will get noise cancellation and water resistance.

The Apple AirPods 3, as we will call them in this feature, were initially rumoured to appear later this year, though Gurman claims it will now likely be 2020. There have been conflicting reports though, as well as claims of two new AirPods models.


Apple AirPod 3 specs: What we want

It's very early days for the Apple AirPods 3 given the second-gen models have only recently been announced, but here are the specifications we would like, and expect, to see on the next Apple AirPods that weren't included in the Apple AirPods 2.

  • Noise cancellation
  • Water resistance
  • Fitness tracking features
  • Further talktime improvements (longer battery life for the AirPods themselves)
  • More control customisation

What's happened?

Here's everything that has happened so far regarding Apple's next AirPods.

5 June 2019: Apple announces some new AirPods enhancements that'll arrive with iOS 13

With (presumably any) AirPods, Apple says that if you upgrade to the upcoming iOS 13 then Siri will be able to read incoming messages through your earphones as soon as they arrive, from Messages or any SiriKit-enabled messaging app (so yes, that includes WhatsApp). 

There will also be a new audio sharing feature that means you can watch a movie or share a song with a friend by simply bringing a second pair of AirPods close to iPhone or iPad. We don't know if this feature will be exclusive to AirPods or whether it will work with other Bluetooth devices. 

24 April 2019: AirPods 3 with noise cancellation to arrive before end of year

Digitimes reported that a third generation of Apple AirPods would arrive before the end of the year with noise cancellation.

Meanwhile, a separate report saw Ming-Chi Kuo predict we would see two new AirPods models ship at the end of 2019 or beginning of 2020. One of the models will apparently have a new design, as has been claimed before. The other model is predicted to offer the same design as the current model.

20 March 2019: Apple working on future AirPods, due 2020

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman tweeted that the second Apple AirPods were due to go on sale last year, and that Apple is working on a future version with noise cancellation and water resistance.

Gurman claimed the next Apple AirPods were originally due to be announced later this year, though he now expects them to arrive in 2020.

3 December 2018: Apple AirPods 3 to get new design

Renowned Apple analyst Ming Chi Kuo said the 2020 Apple AirPods will come with an "all-new design".

He didn't offer any further details, but Kuo was right about the AirPods 2 offering a new chip, wireless charging case and Bluetooth 5.0.

25 June 2018: More evidence appears for noise cancellation

Bloomberg claimed the AirPods in 2019 would bring noise cancelling, citing sources familiar with the matter. Supporting this, a Barclays report claimed Apple would use physical analogue methods, as opposed to active noise cancellation.

Water resistance was also claimed by Bloomberg, though for sweatproofing rather than swimproofing and the publication also suggested Apple is looking for ways to add a heart rate monitor, as well as increase the range of the AirPods.

7 July 2017: Further patents suggest fitness tracking tech for AirPods

Patently Apple reported on another patent specifically showing a in-ear AirPod with a biometric sensor. The site also found reference to the addition of EKG sensors, impedance cardiography sensors, and more fitness-tracking technology into the wireless earphones.


20 March 2017: Apple files patents for earbuds with biometric sensing

Apple filed three patents for three different headphones, with references to "earbuds with biometric sensing". A note in the patent suggests built-in biometric sensors would make contact with the small bit on the inside of your ear, allowing them to collect heart rate, temperature and VO2 information via a photoplethysmogram sensor (PPG).

The patents also suggest noise cancelling thanks to microphones that can block external sounds. Varying levels of noise cancellation were suggested, meaning the headphones could let some external noise in, useful in situations like riding a bike in traffic. 

Patently Appleapple files patents for earbuds with biometric sensing health tracking capabilities on the horizon image 1