Well-known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has some new predictions for what’s next for Apple’s AirPods wireless earphones, but there’s not much to get excited about until 2020 if he’s right.
As AppleInsider reports, we should expect a minor refresh of the AirPods in the first quarter of 2019. Kuo believes AirPods are going to receive a Bluetooth upgrade, which would mean the adoption of Bluetooth 5.0. That would bring them in line with the latest iPhone models and the HomePod. The main advantage of Bluetooth 5.0 for earphones being a higher broadcasting capacity.
Other expected improvements include a new W-series chip and the introduction of support for wireless charging. That sounds like Apple is going to switch out the existing AirPods charging case (which requires a Lightning cable for recharging) for a wireless version. So rather than plugging it into to charge you can simply place it on a wireless charging pad such as the Belkin Boost Up.
The update doesn’t sound like enough for existing AirPods owners to make the upgrade, but it would be nice to see battery life extended beyond five hours and wireless charging for the case. Will the price increase because of that? Probably. We heard reports of “Hey Siri” AirPods back in February, so that could also be a feature in next year’s refresh.
Looking further ahead, Kuo believes Apple is planning an all-new design for the AirPods in 2020. The focus is apparently on producing AirPods that all existing AirPods owners would desire enough to upgrade immediately. How you do that with something as small and simple as the AirPods is unclear. Better battery life, enhanced sound quality, the introduction of many color options, and some kind of new health and fitness features may put in an appearance come 2020. Noise cancellation has also been mentioned in the past.
Kuo’s sales predictions for AirPods seem overly generous. The figures for 2017 and 2018 are 16 million and 28 million respectively. However, for 2019 Kuo sees that jumping to 55 million, then 80 million for 2020, and 110 million for 2021. Kuo’s reasoning seems to be that iPhone owners will be upgrading their AirPods much more regularly than their smartphones. Even so, those sales figures seem very high.
One thing everyone would like to know, and which relates to wireless AirPods, is what happened to the AirPower wireless charging mat? It was meant to launch back in March, then got delayed until September. It still hasn’t appeared and there’s no sign it ever will. Triple-device charging seems like a step too far for Apple’s engineers right now. Meanwhile, Samsung will happily wirelessly charge two devices for you.
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