Apple Researching AirPods Case With Built-in Interactive Touchscreen

Apple has designs on a future AirPods case featuring a built-in touchscreen display that would enable users to control audio sources and interact with apps associated with the connected device, according to a newly published patent.

AirPods Pro Case With Screen
Filed by Apple in September 2021 and published last week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, "Devices, Methods, and Graphical User Interface Interactions with a Headphones Case" clearly depicts various embodiments for such a design, complete with images of AirPods and a touchscreen on the case's front.

"Audio output device cases are commonly passive devices used to charge audio output devices," reads the patent. "The utility of a headphone case can be enhanced, and user control over a user's wireless headphones can be improved, by configuring a headphone case with an interactive user interface to enable user control of operations associated with the wireless headphones." The patent continues:

There is a need for a headphone case device that can control operations that are traditionally associated with headphones (e.g., playback controls, changing audio sources, changing audio output modes, etc.). There is a further need for a headphone case that can also convey information to a user, through haptics and/or display devices. Such methods and interfaces optionally complement conventional methods for controlling wireless headphones. Such methods and interfaces reduce the number, extent, and/or nature of the inputs from a user and produce a more efficient human-machine interface.

In one embodiment, Apple envisions controlling Apple Music via the case through the use of a capacitive touchscreen with a GUI that also provides tactile feedback, allowing the user to control audio playback, adjust volume, favorite songs, and interact with their music in other ways without necessarily looking at the case to do so.

airpods case with display
In another embodiment, the case responds to specific gestures such as taps and swipes to navigate onscreen content and invoke Siri. In one scenario, Apple describes how squeezing the case could even be a way to change the listening mode of the AirPods – likely referring to Noise Cancelation and Transparency.

Apple suggests that the case could include additional processors and memory modules that would allow it to carry out specific instructions that are traditionally associated with smartphones, computers, and other connected devices. For instance, some embodiments show the case's touchscreen providing interactive access to iPhone apps including Phone, Mail, Messages, Camera, Calendar, Weather, Maps, and more.

By integrating an interactive touchscreen display in such a way, the patent argues, "deficiencies associated with user control of wireless headphones are reduced or eliminated."

airpods case touchscreen music
As with any filed patent, the technology it describes is unlikely to appear in a product anytime soon, if at all, but it does offer an interesting look at how Apple is exploring ways to make an AirPods case more of a functional intermediary between the AirPods themselves and the connected audio source.

Since the first AirPods launched in 2016, Apple has worked to enhance the functionality of the AirPods Case for different models. The AirPods Pro case in particular has benefited from the addition of MagSafe wireless charging, a U1 Ultra Wideband chip that supports Precision Tracking with Find My, a lanyard loop, a built-in speaker for locating and status updates, and increased battery life.

(Via Patently Apple.)

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

Top Rated Comments

floral Avatar
12 months ago
Slowly, we're bringing the magic of iPod back... all we need is a clickwheel XD
Score: 60 Votes (Like | Disagree)
vertsix Avatar
12 months ago
out of ideas
Score: 26 Votes (Like | Disagree)
hybrid_x Avatar
12 months ago
Why not just embed file storage and a music player directly into the case? Call it the… iPod?
Score: 25 Votes (Like | Disagree)
SD449 Avatar
12 months ago
This seems quite cool.

Then the next version can have strap accessories and a clock face animation and we’re back to this:


Attachment Image
Score: 14 Votes (Like | Disagree)
crsh1976 Avatar
12 months ago
You already have an iPhone and Watch, but hey let's add you a third screen.
Score: 13 Votes (Like | Disagree)
TheYayAreaLiving ?️ Avatar
12 months ago
It would be cool if it contains iPhone 14 Dynamic Island.

Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

General Apps Messages

Apple Announces 'Groundbreaking' New Security Protocol for iMessage

Wednesday February 21, 2024 6:00 am PST by
Apple today announced a new post-quantum cryptographic protocol for iMessage called PQ3. Apple says this "groundbreaking" and "state-of-the-art" protocol provides "extensive defenses against even highly sophisticated quantum attacks." Apple believes the PQ3 protocol's protections "surpass those in all other widely deployed messaging apps," according to its blog post:Today we are announcing...
Beyond iPhone 13 Better Blue Face ID Single Camera Hole

Six Reasons to Wait for Next Year's iPhone 17

Thursday February 22, 2024 4:20 am PST by
Apple's iPhone development roadmap runs several years into the future and the company is continually working with suppliers on several successive iPhone models concurrently, which is why we sometimes get rumored feature leaks so far ahead of launch. The iPhone 17 series is no different, and already we have some idea of what to expect from Apple's 2025 smartphone lineup. If you plan to skip...
iOS 17

iOS 17.4 Will Add These New Features to Your iPhone

Monday February 19, 2024 6:52 am PST by
Apple last month confirmed that iOS 17.4 will be released in March, and the update includes several new features and changes for the iPhone. Key new features in iOS 17.4 include major App Store changes in the EU and Apple Podcasts transcripts. The update also adds new emoji and includes preparations for the launch of next-generation CarPlay later this year. More details about the new...
Oled iPads and MackBook Pro Notch

Apple's OLED Roadmap: New iPad Mini, Foldable iPad Pro, and More

Wednesday February 21, 2024 5:29 am PST by
Apple is planning to launch at least nine new devices with OLED displays across the iPad and MacBook product lines, according to an updated forecast from research firm Omdia that sets out the company's plans in detail. As widely rumored, Apple's push to transition to OLED will apparently be jump-started by the release of new 11- and 13-inch iPad Pro models this year. The displays will...
Next Generation CarPlay Porsche 1

Apple Launching Next-Generation CarPlay This Year With These New Features

Wednesday February 21, 2024 2:03 pm PST by
Apple recently updated its website to confirm that the first vehicle models with next-generation CarPlay support will debut "in 2024." This wording is shown on Apple's regional websites for the U.S., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and many other countries. The iOS 17.4 beta includes code-level references to eight new CarPlay apps:Auto Settings: This app will let you manage paired iPhones...
cracked glass vision pro

Handful of Apple Vision Pro Units Develop Identical Crack in Cover Glass

Friday February 23, 2024 4:46 am PST by
A small number of Apple Vision Pro owners have claimed that their headsets developed a hairline crack down the middle of the front cover glass, despite having never been dropped or mishandled. Photo of hairline crack in Vision Pro front glass (credit: Reddit user Inphenite) The first report was posted in the subreddit /r/VisionPro about 18 days ago, and several more have appeared in the last...
iPad Pro OLED Feature 2

Apple's Upcoming OLED iPad Pro Models Rumored to Be Much Thinner

Tuesday February 20, 2024 1:39 pm PST by
Apple is planning to update the iPad Air and iPad Pro lineups as soon as March, and the new iPad Pro models will be significantly thinner according to dimensions shared by 9to5Mac. Citing sources with knowledge of Apple's plans, the site claims that the larger version will be more than 1mm thinner. The current 12.9-inch iPad Pro measures in at 6.4mm thick, but the new model is said to be 5mm ...
Apple Sports App Preview Feature

'Apple Sports' App Announced With Personalized Scoreboards and More

Wednesday February 21, 2024 6:16 am PST by
Apple today announced "Apple Sports," a new free app that provides real-time statistics, scores, and more. Apple Sports features a personalized experience with a user's favorite leagues, tournaments, teams shown on an easy-to-read scoreboard. Users can navigate between scores and upcoming games, explore play-by-play information, team statistics, lineup details, and live betting odds, with...