Apple will launch its next-generation wireless AirPods in the next few months. The updated earbuds will have new health-tracking capabilities, according to the latest report by DigiTimes (opens in new tab).
The second-generation AirPods, originally rumoured to launch last year, will not upgrade the audio performance, but instead look to add more smarts and new features to the wireless earbuds.
According to the latest report, "In terms of wireless headsets, Apple is set to release AirPods 2 sometime in the first half of 2019, and the new wireless earbuds with discrete designs to carry health monitoring functions are expected to receive enthusiastic market responses."
DigiTimes (opens in new tab) claims the Apple AirPods 2 will look identical to the previous generation except for a small LED light beneath the latch on the front of the charging case. This indicator light is used to signal when the case is charging wirelessly.
Apple AirPods 2 will support Bluetooth 5.0 instead of the Bluetooth 4.2 version inside the original AirPods. Amongst other improvements, this should offer improved battery life for the wireless earbuds.
As it stands, the current-generation £159 AirPods last for five hours of listening time between charges. The charging carry case can top-up the earbuds with three hours of listening time in 15 minutes. The case, which charges over Lightning port, has enough battery life to top-up earbuds with more than 24 hours of listening time.
It's difficult to speculate about exactly how much the battery life could be bettered thanks to the introduction of Bluetooth 5.0, especially since Apple could decide that it would rather keep the battery life the same as the first-generation AirPods and would rather shave some bulk from the earbuds to make them skinnier.
After all, this is the approach the company has taken with its iPhone and iPad ranges, targeting the same battery life while thinning the size of the latest devices.
Battery life aside, the latest Bluetooth version does offer some other improvements. Bluetooth 5.0 offers four times the wireless range of the Bluetooth 4.2 standard used in the original AirPods, so you won't be tethered to your iPhone quite as tightly with the next-generations earbuds. The new Bluetooth standard also offers twice the amount of data transmission as its predecessor.
Previous leaks have revealed that AirPods 2 are classified as a Class 10 category device in recent trademark filings in Hong Kong and Europe. That means the gadgets contain "health, fitness, exercise, and wellness sensors, monitors, speakers and displays for measuring, displaying, tracking, reporting, monitoring, storing, and transmitting biometric data, heart rate, body movement, and calories burned."
Apple currently allows iPhone owners to track their steps using their smartphone, or Apple Watch. This data feeds into the preinstalled Heath app. It's possible the Cupertino-based company will bring the same functionality to its next wireless earbuds.
According to reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, Apple is also hard at work on a substantial redesign of the AirPods for 2020.
This entirely-new AirPods range will allegedly include a separate, pricier pair of over-ear headphones with in-built noise-cancellation.