Apple to Debut New AirPods This Year With Handsfree 'Hey, Siri' Voice Command Feature, 'Water-Resistant' Models Coming in 2019

Apple is reportedly working on several upgrades to its wireless AirPods with a new version of the popular headphones set for release as soon as this year, according to Bloomberg.

airpods

Like with its mobile devices -- the iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch -- Apple intends to frequently update the AirPods with new hardware features. The Cupertino, California-based technology giant is working on a new version for release as soon as this year with an upgraded wireless chip, the people said. A subsequent model for as early as next year is planned to be water resistant, they added, asking not to be identified discussing private product plans.

The new 2018 AirPods are said to come with an upgraded wireless chip that will let users summon Siri using the "Hey, Siri" voice command without having to physically tap the headphones, similar to the way iPhone and HomePod users invoke the virtual assistant. Currently, summoning Siri through AirPods requires users to double-tap the sides of the earbuds, although responsiveness to touch can occasionally be flaky. The upcoming version of the headphones are known internally as B288, according to today's report.

The idea behind the third iteration of AirPods, said to be coming in 2019, is for the headphones to "survive splashes of water and rain", although they likely won't be designed to be submerged in water, according to Bloomberg's sources. That plan comes despite reports that current-generation AirPods survive being submerged in one foot of water for five minutes, and even come out the other side of a washing and drying cycle functioning as normal. That said, Apple doesn't advertise AirPods as water resistant, and a patent was in fact filed last April for a waterproof AirPods case that can double as an iPhone or Apple Watch charger.

Designed by the same department that produced Apple's HomePod speaker, AirPods were first introduced in 2016 alongside the iPhone 7 sans headphone jack, as a wireless solution for users wanting to listen to audio through a headset. Since launch, AirPods have been considered one of Apple's top-performing products, apparently reflected in Apple's severely constrained supplies throughout 2017. Production capacity of AirPods was bumped up in the second half of last year, but Apple has consistently struggled to reach supply/demand balance. Despite tight supply, AirPods were the overall top selling electronic products during last November's Cyber Monday, according to online shopping data provided by Adobe.

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has predicted that Apple shipped 13 to 14 million AirPods last year, and he expects AirPods to remain one of Apple's most popular accessories through 2018, with shipments likely to double to an estimated 26-28 million units on a year-over-year basis. Separately, analyst Gene Munster has predicted Apple will eventually earn more from AirPods than Apple Watch.

Back in December, Kuo also predicted Apple would release an upgraded version of AirPods in the second half of 2018. Kuo said one internal change on the second-generation AirPods will include a "smaller quartz component," but he didn't provide any further details about new outward-facing features or improvements to expect.

During Apple's iPhone X event in September, Apple revealed that a rumored new version of its AirPods headphones were not in fact the "AirPods 2," but simply a new inductive wireless charging case that users will be able to purchase as a replacement for their current charging cases. The only design change made to the new charging case is the placement of the LED battery indicator light, which has migrated from the inside of the case to the outside on the front. No release date has been given for the wireless charging case, but there's a fair chance it could appear during a March event alongside Apple's AirPower wireless charging pad and new iPads. It's still unclear if Apple will offer a version that also includes the AirPods themselves at the typical $159 price tag.

Related Roundups: AirPods 3, AirPods Pro
Related Forum: AirPods

Top Rated Comments

BrettArchibald Avatar
51 months ago
What I'd really like are some soft silicone tipped AirPods. That hard plastic is just too uncomfortable for me. :(
Score: 63 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BulkSlash Avatar
51 months ago
I think my biggest wanted feature would be auto-switching between devices rather than having to go into Control Centre each time I jump from my iPhone to my iPad. It's admittedly a minor annoyance but it would be a big time saver for me.
Score: 48 Votes (Like | Disagree)
rgeneral Avatar
51 months ago
How about adjusting volume without invoking Siri.
Score: 45 Votes (Like | Disagree)
pat500000 Avatar
51 months ago
How about different colors?
Score: 42 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jsmith189 Avatar
51 months ago
With my iPhone, iPad and HomePod already listening for Hey Siri... this is going to cause a bit of a mess, me thinks lol.
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
recoil80 Avatar
51 months ago
What I'd really like are some soft silicone tipped AirPods. That hard plastic is just too uncomfortable for me. :(
This.
That's the main reason why I bought BeatsX instead of AirPods.
Give me an in-ear version of AirPods and I'll buy it instantly
Score: 21 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

safari icon blue banner

Safari Bug Allows Websites to Track Your Recent Browsing Activity in Real Time [Updated]

Sunday January 16, 2022 3:37 pm PST by
A bug in WebKit's implementation of a JavaScript API called IndexedDB can reveal your recent browsing history and even your identity, according to a blog post shared on Friday by browser fingerprinting service FingerprintJS. In a nutshell, the bug allows any website that uses IndexedDB to access the names of IndexedDB databases generated by other websites during a user's browsing session....
iPhone 14 Mock pill and hole thumb

ProMotion Now Expected to Remain Exclusive to iPhone 14 Pro Models, Not Expand to Entire Lineup

Sunday January 16, 2022 8:56 am PST by
Continuing the tradition set with the iPhone 13 Pro, only the highest-end iPhone 14 models will feature Apple's ProMotion display technology, according to a respected display analyst. Ross Young, who on multiple occasions has detailed accurate information about Apple's future products, said in a tweet that ProMotion will not be expanded to the entire iPhone 14 lineup and will remain...
iPad Air Feature 2 green

New Apple Products Filed in Regulatory Database, Likely Including New iPhone SE and iPad Air

Tuesday January 18, 2022 6:11 am PST by
Apple today filed unreleased iPhone and iPad models in the Eurasian Economic Commission database, as spotted by French blog Consomac. The filings likely represent the rumored third-generation iPhone SE, fifth-generation iPad Air, and potentially more. The unreleased iPhone models have the identifiers A2595, A2783, and A2784, while the unreleased iPad models have the identifiers A2588, A2589, ...
AirPods 3 New Firmware Feature

Apple Updates AirPods 3 Firmware to Version 4C170

Tuesday January 18, 2022 11:46 am PST by
Apple today released a new 4C170 firmware update for the AirPods 3, an update from the prior 4C165 that was made available in December. Apple does not offer details on what's included in new firmware updates for the AirPods‌, so we don't know what improvements or bug fixes the new firmware brings. There is no standard way to upgrade the ‌AirPods‌‌ software, but firmware is...
iphone 5g mmwave

U.S. Airlines Warn of 'Catastrophic' Crisis With Impending 5G Rollout, AT&T and Verizon Agree to Delay Around Airports

Tuesday January 18, 2022 10:35 am PST by
Verizon and AT&T's upcoming rollout of new C-Band 5G technology could cause chaos and lead to widespread delays of passenger and cargo flights, major U.S. airlines said on Monday in a letter sent to the White House National Economic Council, the FAA, and the FCC (via Reuters). "Unless our major hubs are cleared to fly, the vast majority of the traveling and shipping public will essentially...
iphone se 2020 top

iPhone SE With Larger 5.7-Inch Display May Launch in 2023, 'iPhone SE+ 5G' Also Rumored

Monday January 17, 2022 6:46 am PST by
Apple is planning to release a fourth-generation iPhone SE with a larger 5.7-inch display as early as 2023, according to display industry consultant Ross Young, who has proven to be a reliable source of information for future Apple products. The fourth-generation iPhone SE has until now been rumored to launch in 2024, but Young now says a 2023 release is looking more likely....
tesla carplay solution

Developer Showcases Apple CarPlay Workaround for Teslas

Monday January 17, 2022 7:24 am PST by
A Tesla Model 3 owner has resorted to a workaround to implement Apple CarPlay in his vehicle, amid no sign of official support from Tesla (via Tesla North). Apple CarPlay and Apple Music support are among the most-requested Tesla features, but with no indication that Tesla is willing to implement Apple CarPlay in its vehicles, Polish developer Michał Gapiński took matters into his own...
ipad air 4 video

New iPad Air Rumored to Launch This Spring With A15 Chip, 5G, Center Stage Camera, and More

Saturday January 15, 2022 8:05 pm PST by
Apple is planning to release a fifth-generation iPad Air with similar features as the sixth-generation iPad mini, including an A15 Bionic chip, 12-megapixel Ultra Wide front camera with Center Stage support, 5G for cellular models, and Quad-LED True Tone flash, according to Japanese blog Mac Otakara. Citing reliables sources in China, the report claims that the new iPad Air could be...