You’d be forgiven for thinking Apple only makes iPhones. It doesn’t, it also makes a bunch of accessories for those handsets, and, you know, the iPads, Macs and other kit it sells. Key among its accessories is the audio category. Apple spent $3bn acquiring audio hardware company Beats in 2014, after all. Also, in the age of the phones without audio jacks and smart speakers, audio hardware is one of the areas still ripe for innovation… and sales.
Rumours are beginning to swirl that Apple’s doubling down on audio gear, with at least some of the new kit expected to be announced when the company unveils its new iPhones. Reports suggest we’ll see updated AirPods in 2019 with some tasty new features. There are also rumours of new over-ear headphones that’ll ditch the Beats branding for Apple’s arguably more respectable marque, and even suggestions we’ll see a new HomePod.
Updated AirPods incoming
The new AirPods will are expected to be higher-end than the current ones, with Apple considering adding biometric sensors to the wireless earbuds, probably along the lines of a built-in heart rate monitor. Eat your h(ear)t out, Apple competitors. Unfortunately, the upgrades will likely lead to a higher price point than the current R2,500 a pair.
We’re also expecting a wireless charging case for the AirPods that will be compatible with Apple’s upcoming AirPower charging mat, as that was already teased last year. That should work with current AirPods, assuming you buy the new case for them.
Water resistance might also be making its way to the 2019 revamped ‘Pods, but don’t expect to use them in the pool — their rumoured forthcoming aquatic prowess is intended to mitigate against sweat or getting caught in the rain, rather than letting you consume podcasts while doing backstroke.
A previous rumour suggested that fresh AirPods with added components could launch later in 2018 — but that rumour appears to be for a slightly tweaked device, and not the fully updated set with biometric sensors, wireless charging and water resistance we’re hearing talk of for 2019. If we see updated AirPods this year, it might be worth holding out a little longer for the serious upgrade.
If you’re not set on Apple’s in-ears, perhaps a set of over-ears might be enough to entice you. The rumoured over-ear headphones are said to bear Apple’s own logo, and not the mark of the Beats. These headphones are expected to challenge the likes of Bose and Sennheiser… so they’re gonna be pricey. But them, Apple’s pretty good at playing in the priciest market segments as is.
Reportedly, Apple originally intended to introduce the headphones at the end of 2018, but “development challenges” forced them to push the launch date into 2019.
…and then there’s the HomePod
Apple is making some changes to the production processes of the HomePod, after sales of the smart speaker weren’t as enthusiastic as expected. A new model may appear as early as 2019, but we don’t really know any more than that, besides that Foxconn may be taking over some (or all) of the production duties from current manufacturer Inventec.
A gentle reminder, folks: These rumours aren’t confirmed, and production has yet to begin on all of the aforementioned. But keeping secrets in tech is difficult, so odds are we’ll see most, if not all, of these murmurs come to life, one way or another.