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)
Related Forum: AirPods

Top Rated Comments

nvmls Avatar
15 months ago
$137 per year.
Imagine price if it took a decade.
Score: 38 Votes (Like | Disagree)
neuropsychguy Avatar
15 months 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
15 months 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
15 months ago
4 years to scrub off the Beats logo.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ouimetnick Avatar
15 months 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
15 months 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)

Related Stories

drop panda airpods max 1

AirPods Max vs. Drop + THX Panda Wireless Headphones

Tuesday January 12, 2021 11:31 am PST by
We've compared the AirPods Max to several other competing sets of headphones from companies like Bose, Sennheiser, and Sony, but recently, the Drop + THX Panda Wireless Headphones have been getting some attention, so we thought we'd see how they measure up to Apple's over-ear headphones. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Priced at $400, the Drop + THX Panda Wireless...
airpods max firmware update

AirPods Max Firmware Update Appears to Fix Smart Case Battery Drain Issues

Friday March 12, 2021 9:28 am PST by
Apple on Tuesday released new 3C39 firmware for the AirPods Max, and there was speculation that the new software was meant to address a battery life problem that users had been experiencing. Some AirPods Max headphones were seeing excessive battery drain while in the Smart Case, and now there's evidence that the update does indeed fix the problem. Developer Guilherme Rambo tested AirPods Max ...
AirPods Max In Stock Silver

AirPods Max in Silver Now Available to Ship on Amazon

Thursday March 18, 2021 6:36 am PDT by
Following stock for the Pink AirPods Max last week, today we're seeing refreshed stock for the AirPods Max in Silver at Amazon for a price of $549.00. Silver and Space Gray AirPods Max are the most popular versions of the headphones to appear in stock at places like Verizon, Amazon, and B&H Photo. The other three colors have been available as well at certain retailers. $549Silver AirPods ...
airpods max earcup left

AirPods Max Missing Rumored Features: $350 'Sport' Model, Swappable Bands, Touch Controls

Tuesday December 8, 2020 8:21 am PST by
Apple's newly-announced AirPods Max over-ear headphones reportedly omitted a number of features to launch after months of delays, according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman. Earlier in the year, a report from Bloomberg said that AirPods Max, thought at the time to be called "AirPods Studio," had suffered several development challenges leading to multiple delays and scaling back of functionality. ...
maxresdefault

Some AirPods Max Owners Seeing Excessive Battery Drain

Tuesday January 19, 2021 12:02 pm PST by
Apple in December introduced the AirPods Max, its over-ear Apple-branded headphones that join the AirPods and AirPods Pro. Since launch, a growing number of MacRumors readers who purchased the AirPods Max have been complaining of battery drain that seems excessive. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Complaints range from high battery drain while the headphones are in...
airpods max listening

Apple Shares Helpful Tips for AirPods Max and Fitness+, Confirms AirPods Max Aren't Water Resistant

Tuesday December 15, 2020 7:52 am PST by
Following the launch of the AirPods Max this week, Apple has shared a series of support documents with helpful details about the headphones. Apple has also shared some helpful tips on getting started with its new Fitness+ workout service. How the LED Status Light Works on AirPods Max On the bottom of the right ear cup of the AirPods Max, there is a small LED status light that serves...
AirPods Max In Stock black

Major AirPods Max Restock Includes Four Colors Available to Ship Today

Thursday April 1, 2021 10:14 am PDT by
We're tracking one of the biggest restocks of AirPods Max headphones as we enter April, available at Amazon and Verizon. This restock includes nearly all colors of the AirPods Max. Amazon has all five colors except Pink available, with Space Gray at slightly delayed 1-2 day shipping estimates. Verizon is offering free two-day shipping on the Space Gray, Green, and Sky Blue AirPods Max. A ...
AirPods Max new feature

Deals: AirPods Max Drop to $519 on Expercom ($30 Off)

Wednesday May 12, 2021 6:52 am PDT by
Expercom today is offering the AirPods Max for $519.00, down from $549.00. This sale marks a new all-time low price on the AirPods Max, and is beating Amazon's current price of $532.26. On Expercom, the $519.00 price tag is available in all five colors of the AirPods Max. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with some of these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may...

Popular Stories

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...
AirPods Pro Gen 3 Mock Feature Red

AirPods Pro 2 Could Start a New Accessory Ecosystem

Friday January 14, 2022 2:34 am PST by
Apple's second-generation AirPods Pro could arrive alongside a new series of accessories, recent leaked images suggest. Alleged leaked photos of the next-generation AirPods Pro obtained by MacRumors showed a charging case with a metal loop on the side for attaching a strap. Apple has not used this design for any of its other AirPod models and it is unclear why it would be added in this...
Unlikely Products 2022 Feature

Six Rumored Apple Products You're Unlikely to See This Year

Saturday January 15, 2022 2:06 pm PST by
Much has been said about what consumers could see from Apple in 2022, but the company is also working on a handful of rumored products that aren't expected to be unveiled for at least another 12 months, and in some cases a lot longer. Of course, that's assuming they get released at all. Apple works on many potential products some of which ultimately never see the light of day. With that in...
safari icon blue banner

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

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....
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...
netflix2

Netflix Again Raises Prices for All Plans, 4K Streaming Now $20 Per Month

Friday January 14, 2022 12:46 pm PST by
Netflix today updated the prices for its streaming plans, and all of its offerings are now more expensive. The Basic plan is now priced at $9.99 per month, the Standard plan is priced at $15.49 per month, and the Premium plan is priced at $19.99 per month. The Basic plan is $1 more expensive, up from $8.99 per month. This plan allows users to watch on just one screen at a time, and it limits ...
top stories 20220115

Top Stories: iPhone 14 Pro Rumors, iCloud Private Relay Controversy, iOS 15.2.1 Released, and More

Saturday January 15, 2022 6:00 am PST by
Hole-punch? Pill? Hole-punch and pill? Rumors about what the front camera system on the iPhone 14 Pro will look like are evolving rapidly, and it now appears we might be getting a novel but potentially controversial design later this year. Other major stories this week included some confusion and controversy about iCloud Private Relay being disabled for some T-Mobile customers, increasing...
iPhone 14 Mock pill and hole 16x9 120hz

Analyst: All iPhone 14 Models to Feature 120Hz Displays, 6GB of RAM, and More

Friday January 14, 2022 7:02 am PST by
Apple is rumored to announce four new iPhone 14 models in September, and ahead of time, analyst Jeff Pu has outlined his expectations for the devices. In a research note with Haitong International Securities, obtained by MacRumors, Pu claimed that all iPhone 14 models will feature ProMotion displays, compared to only Pro models currently. ProMotion enables a variable refresh rate up to 120Hz ...