Apple AirPods Studio headphones party trick revealed in new video

It looks like location tracking for AirPods Studio is real

AirPods Studio icon
(Image credit: 9to5Mac)

Over the years, plenty of new hardware and functionality has leaked in iOS developer betas from AirPods Pro to new Apple Watches. Now, the latest beta – iOS 14.3 – seems to give us a tiny preview of the much rumored AirPods Studio over-ear headphones.

It comes in the form of the icon above which now appears in the internal system files, as spotted by 9to5Mac. The icon bears more than a passing resemblance to the photograph that leaker @choco_bit claimed were likely the Sport variant of AirPods Studio back in September: 

It also notably matches how Bloomberg described the prototype version earlier this year: “a retro look with oval-shaped ear cups that swivel and a headband connected by thin, metal arms.”

That’s not all though. The icon also apparently appears in a pairing video in the ‘Find My’ app, as captured by MacRumors’ Steve Moser:

The fact that it appears alongside two pieces of luggage in a ‘lost items’ app seems to confirm another long standing rumor about AirPods Studio: that Apple’s new headphones will contain some kind of location tracking technology, powered by the U1 chip. 

Debuting in last year’s iPhone 11, and rumored to be powering the upcoming Apple AirTags, the Apple U1 chip uses ultra-wideband low-energy short-range radio technology to locate and talk to other U1 hosting devices. In AirPods Studio, the chip is also rumored to automatically assign left and right channels, no matter which way you’re wearing the headset.

What the iOS beta doesn’t provide, of course, is any idea of timelines for release. While AirPods Studio was rumored to be a product for Christmas 2020, that feels pretty unlikely now, given Apple didn’t mention it at any of its three recent events for Apple Watch Series 6, HomePod mini, iPhone 12 and M1 powered Macs

It’s still possible it’ll emerge via press release, but 2021 now seems more likely, as Apple leaker Jon Prosser suggested earlier this year: