It looks like Apple’s audio team is going into overdrive. Three new audio products are expected to arrive early next year from the iPhone maker, including premium AirPods, a new HomePod, and “studio-quality” over-ear headphones, according to Bloomberg.
According to people familiar with the matter, Apple’s hoping to release premium AirPods that feature noise-cancellation and water resistance and have a more extended range. The water resistance isn’t intended for music listening while swimming. Instead, it’s to protect the headphones against rain and perspiration. Biometric sensors could also be added, eventually, for things like heart-rate monitoring.
Meanwhile, Bloomberg says Apple plans to refresh the current AirPods with a new chip and support for hands-free Siri activations.
The premium 2019 AirPods are expected to be priced at more than the $159 Apple charges for the current model. A wireless charging case that’s compatible with the long-related AirPower charger is also expected.
Apple plans to ramp up AirPods production by working with Foxconn, people familiar with the arrangement said. Thus far, it has mostly worked with Inventec, but builds about 30 percent of the units with Luxshare Precision Industry Co. When the earbuds first came out in 2016, they were delayed, and there was limited supply after the product finally went on sale.
The new high-quality over-ear headphones are expected to compete with companies such as Bose Corp. and Sennheiser. In doing so:
They will use Apple branding and be a higher-end alternative to the company’s Beats line. Apple originally intended to introduce the headphones by the end of 2018, but has faced development challenges, and is now targeting a launch as early as next year, the people said.
Back in March, Bloomberg also said Apple was planning to release a new pair of over-ear headphones under the Apple, not Beats, name.
Finally, the publication expects a second-generation HomePod to launch early next year, despite what it describes as “sluggish sales.” Little is known about the new smart speaker except that it might be produced by a company other than Inventec.
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