Familiar and yet new
A recent report from Digitimes claims Apple will release AirPods 2 sometime in the first half of 2019, providing some new health monitoring features and other upgrades, including wireless charging and Hey Siri support. The upgrades sound great, and we're all excited to see what the next generation of AirPods awaits.
The AirPods will be charged wirelessly, and we know that at the Apple event in September 2017, Phil Schiller announced the optional AirPower charging case in addition to the AirPower charging mat. If the case of wireless charging is still an optional purchase for the original or AirPods of the next generation, the new version of AirPods will certainly retain the same form factor as before.
In February 2018, there were rumors of a new pair of AirPods with Hey Siri support, improved water resistance and an upgrade to the W2 chip. A few months later, at Apple's September event, a short clip was shown in which an Apple employee used the Hey Siri feature with AirPods and ran through a shallow pool of water in the new Apple headquarters, for better water resistance points.
An Apple illustration of a wireless AirPod case on the unpublished AirPower charging mat
We can safely assume that these features will come, and I personally believe that the new AirPods will include Bluetooth 5 and the W3 chip instead of W2, since the Apple Watch Series 4 already contains the W3 chip.
On Thursday, the first iOS 12.2 Beta uncovered a "Hey Siri" configuration tool that seems to confirm the addition of the AirPods feature, but does not necessarily indicate whether it would work with the current generation or that a new iteration is required.
There were also rumors that future AirPods would gain active noise cancellation, but we did not hear much about that except whispering.
A major expected change for the next generation is the inclusion of health monitoring features.
Almost two years ago, Apple filed three patents titled "Earbuds with biometric sensing". A recent disclosure is a patent that describes ways in which an earplug fits snugly into the ear canal so that it has better contact with the skin.
Given their content, these patents are most likely for the AirPods.
An image from an Apple patent that shows how an earplug can be brought into contact with the ear, making it more useful for PPG measurements
Given the existing patents, we can expect the integration of a photoplethysmogram (PPG) sensor, which is used in the Apple Watch to measure a user's heart rate.
Interestingly, the patents spoke of a temperature sensor that could potentially detect both the user's core temperature and the ambient temperature. The patents also mention a sensor for measuring blood oxygen content, which may be useful, for example, in monitoring aerobic endurance.
In addition, reference has been made to the use of electrodes that can cooperatively measure a variety of biometric parameters, such as the galvanic skin reaction or the electrical activity of the heart. This is another implementation of the same core technology that is used in the Apple Watch Series 4 an electrocardiogram (ECG).
An ECG test with AirPods would simply measure the impulses going to each ear and make sure they do not show any irregularities.
However, there is no guarantee that we will see this feature in the next generation of AirPods. If you know Apple, probably a better sound quality can be expected.
The past is too good
Now that all these exciting features and updates are available for the new AirPods, what could be the biggest threat to their sale? Well, none other than the current AirPods from Apple.
If you think about it, many people are extremely satisfied with their AirPods, and if they already meet your wireless earphone requirements, why should you spend at least $ 160 on an updated set?
Apple's latest version of AirPods.
There is always something new. You can always wait for the next version of something – but it's harder to wait if you do not have a sentence and do not know exactly when the next version will arrive.
There is excitement regarding the possibility of updated AirPods. However, when reality comes along and Apple announces the price of these new AirPods, many current AirPod owners will have to decide if these new features add value to their lives. It's worth spending the money again.
It will probably lead to an individual judgment if the health monitoring functions are worthwhile.