Apple's AirPod wireless headphones have been one of the firm's most successful products - and a much anticipated new version is in the works and expected to be launched in the first half of 2019. Patent filings suggest the company is pretty much ready with the design and mass production is just around the corner.
Reports by DigiTimes and 9To5Mac indicate the new AirPods 2 are just on the way. Up till now, we've barely heard about the second generation earbuds and many expected Apple to launch them last year. According to 9To5Mac, a "Hey Siri" configuration tool found in Apple's latest iOS 12.2 beta suggests the new AirPods are coming soon.
If Siri setup has AirPods inclusion, it means the second generation AirPods could bring in "Hey Siri" functionality. In this case, the audio processing shall be done by the AirPods itself, and not the connected iPhone.
The new AirPods are expected to have a heart rate sensor, enabling tracking of fitness activities. Since the launch of the Apple Watch, the company has increased its focus on health tracking and slowly started integrating everything in the Health SDK.
"If you zoom out into the future and you look back and you ask the question: 'What was Apple's greatest contribution to mankind?' It will be about health," Tim Cook said in a recent interview to CNBC.
According to a fairly old report from Bloomberg, the new pair of earbuds are also going to be waterproof and house better Bluetooth connectivity than their predecessors, thanks to the inclusion of the W2 chip. The same chipset has also been used onboard the Apple Watch Series 3.
Lastly, the AirPods 2 are expected to have wireless charging capabilities. Since the launch of the iPhone 8, Apple has committed itself to going completely wireless. Though, the company still hasn't been able to launch the AirPower mat that can charge multiple devices at once. Rumours suggest the brand could finally launch the AirPower mat along with the AirPods 2.
Keep in mind, much of this is speculation and based on informal reports. There has been no official confirmation from Apple about the AirPods 2 development.