AirPods Max Development Took 4 Years, According to Former Apple Engineer

Apple began working on its recently unveiled AirPods Max headphones over four years ago, according to tweets by a former Apple engineer.

apple airpods max listening experience
Rumors that Apple was developing high-end over-ear headphones began way back in early 2018, when the first mention of own-brand headphones appeared courtesy of Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

However, the timeline of their development apparently extended much further than that, based on now-deleted tweets by former Apple engineer Dinesh Dave (@appleidinesh).

Weather Line developer Ryan Jones screenshotted images of the tweets and shared them, so there's a record after they were removed. In the tweets, Dave linked to Apple's AirPods Max announcement and claimed that "the last product NDA I signed is finally out!"

Responding to another Twitter user who asked when the NDA was signed, Dave replied: "~4 years."

Apple first launched the AirPods line almost exactly four years ago, in December 2016, after which their popularity grew rapidly. As Jones notes in his tweet, Apple likely saw the "insane demand" for ‌AirPods‌ and decided to explore additional potential products in the now-vast "hearables" category.


Prior to their official announcement on Tuesday, subsequent rumors about the headphones focused not only on design and features, but also protracted delays that Apple was said to be experiencing in production. Rumors predicted various launch dates for the headphones that continually missed their mark, from launching in late 2018 to sometime in the second half of 2019.

‌AirPods Max‌ are now available to pre-order on Apple's website, with a launch date of December 15, although there are already massive wait times for shipping running into March 2021.

Bloomberg's Mark Gurman previously reported that Apple tested at least two versions of the headphones, including a "premium version with leather-like fabrics" – aka ‌AirPods Max‌ – and a "fitness-focused model that uses lighter, breathable materials with small perforations," so we may well see an additional version of the headphones sometime next year.

Related Roundup: AirPods Max
Buyer's Guide: AirPods Max (Buy Now)

Top Rated Comments

nvmls Avatar
18 weeks ago
$137 per year.
Imagine price if it took a decade.
Score: 38 Votes (Like | Disagree)
neuropsychguy Avatar
18 weeks ago

will be interesting as hell to see the review videos pop up and how Apple justifies twice the price of comparable headphones
That's assuming this competes with the $250 - $350 headphones and not the $500 - $1000 headphones. We don't know where they are supposed to compete (and maybe Apple doesn't know) but it's too soon to know if these are overpriced and destined for a quiet demise like the Power Mac G4 Cube or the Gold Apple Watch Edition or are priced high but fairly given their performance (like the Pro Display XDR).

Note: I'm not going to buy them. I don't spend hundreds of dollars on headphones (I have a set of AirPods Pro but I only paid $90 for them new [not a reproducible deal]). That being said, if Apple wants to sell $550 headphones and people want to buy them, what does that matter to me? I'm not going to judge how people spend their money; I only need to worry about how I spend mine.
Score: 28 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Chompineer Avatar
18 weeks ago
4 years and they didn't once look at the Sony XM3's, Bose 700's/QC's, B&O's, etc, and realize "Man, this price is really stupid, only fools will buy this".
Score: 27 Votes (Like | Disagree)
swingerofbirch Avatar
18 weeks ago
4 years to scrub off the Beats logo.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ouimetnick Avatar
18 weeks ago

Enough fools to push the delivery times into March 2020. Longest I can recall of any Apple product.

Sounds like sound business pricing to me!
Sounds like the rumors of production issues were real and supply is severely constrained.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)
drunkdane Avatar
18 weeks ago
People complaining about the $550, and here I am just wishing it was only $550 for us. In Denmark, it's 4.799 DKK (781 USD). No way I'm paying that, and judging by the "short" 3 week delivery, I guess I'm not alone.
Score: 16 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

siir apple event april 20

Siri Reveals Apple Event Planned for Tuesday, April 20

Tuesday April 13, 2021 12:04 am PDT by
Siri has apparently prematurely revealed that Apple plans to hold an event on Tuesday, April 20, where the company is expected to reveal brand new iPad Pro models and possibly its long-awaited AirTags trackers. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Upon being asked "When is the next Apple Event," Siri is currently responding with, "The special event is on Tuesday, April...
apple event spring loaded

Apple's 'Spring Loaded' Event Officially Announced for Tuesday, April 20

Tuesday April 13, 2021 9:04 am PDT by
Following an overnight leak by Siri, Apple today officially announced that it will be holding a special "Spring Loaded" event on Tuesday, April 20 at 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time at the Steve Jobs Theater on the Apple Park campus in Cupertino, California. As with all of Apple's 2020 events, the April 2021 event will be a digital-only gathering with no members of the media invited to attend in...
pixel watch prosser leak

Google Pixel Watch Allegedly Leaks with Circular Design, Rumored to Launch in October

Monday April 12, 2021 2:49 am PDT by
Renders of Google's first smartwatch, codenamed "Rohan," have been shared by Jon Prosser, showing that Google plans to adopt a circular design for its flagship wearable watch. Prosser shared the renders in an episode of his YouTube show "Front Page Tech," in which he claims they were made based on marketing material he had seen from a source within Google. The renders show that the Pixel...
Google maps feaure green

Google Maps App for iOS Finally Updated After Four Months

Monday April 12, 2021 10:03 am PDT by
Following the completed rollout of App Privacy labels for its App Store apps, Google today updated the Google Maps app for the first time in four months. Apple in December began requiring all new app submissions and app updates to include App Privacy labels, detailing the data that is collected by the app so consumers know what they're sharing. Google didn't begin implementing App Privacy ...
AppleTV and HomePod Feature

Bloomberg: Apple Working on New Apple TV With Integrated HomePod Speaker and FaceTime Camera

Monday April 12, 2021 3:32 am PDT by
Apple is working on a combined Apple TV with HomePod speaker that has a camera for video calls through a connected television set, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. From the report: The company is working on a product that would combine an Apple TV set-top box with a HomePod speaker and include a camera for video conferencing through a connected TV and other smart-home functions,...
samsung experience 1

Samsung's 'iTest' Lets You Try a Galaxy Device on Your iPhone

Thursday April 8, 2021 12:42 pm PDT by
Samsung has launched "iTest," an interactive website experience that's designed to allow iPhone users to test out Android on a Galaxy device, or "sample the other side," as Samsung puts it. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. The iTest website is being advertised in New Zealand, according to a MacRumors reader who came across the feature. Visiting the iTest website on...
epic iap feature 3

Tim Cook Says App Store Would Become a 'Flea Market' if Third-Party Payment Systems Were Allowed

Monday April 12, 2021 9:41 am PDT by
In a recent interview with the Toronto Star, Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke about a wide variety of topics, ranging from App Tracking Transparency to Apple's ongoing legal battle over App Store policies with Fortnite creator Epic Games. Notably, Cook said that Epic Games' desire for Apple to let developers offer their own payment systems in apps "would make the App Store a flea market":At the...
tim cook toronto star

Tim Cook Says Apple is 'Not Against Digital Advertising' Ahead of iOS 14.5 Launch With App Tracking Transparency

Monday April 12, 2021 8:00 am PDT by
Starting with iOS 14.5, iPadOS 14.5, and tvOS 14.5, Apple will be requiring apps to receive a user's permission to track their activity for targeted advertising purposes, as part of a privacy measure known as App Tracking Transparency. Ahead of App Tracking Transparency being enforced, Apple CEO Tim Cook has participated in a privacy-focused interview with the Toronto Star, telling the...
a13 bionic mockup

Apple Made Sudden Security Changes to its Chips in Fall 2020

Monday April 12, 2021 8:15 am PDT by
Apple made unusual mid-production hardware changes to the A12, A13, and S5 processors in its devices in the fall of 2020 to update the Secure Storage Component, according to Apple Support documents. According to an Apple Support page, spotted by Twitter user Andrew Pantyukhin, Apple changed the Secure Enclave in a number of products in the fall of 2020:Note: A12, A13, S4, and S5 products...
HomePod G4 Feature

Bloomberg: Future HomePod May Feature iPad Connected Via Robotic Arm to Track Users Around The Room During FaceTime Calls

Monday April 12, 2021 3:50 am PDT by
In a report outlining a possible Apple TV with a combined HomePod and camera, Bloomberg's Mark Gurman says that Apple is exploring a future high-end HomePod speaker that could include an iPad connected via a robotic arm that tracks and follows users around a room. From the report: The Cupertino, California-based technology giant, is also mulling the launch of a high-end speaker with a touch ...