June 25 update below. This post was first published on June 24, 2022.
A new leak seems to confirm that a very big update could be coming with the next Apple earbuds release, Apple AirPods Pro 2, expected later this year. New beta software for AirPods has just been released to developersand it presages something that sounds ordinary, an updated Bluetooth codec for Apple AirPods Max, but that could have spectacular repercussions, say, for future in-ears, such as AirPods Pro.
As reported by 9to5Maca developer has claimed that the beta will mean that an updated Bluetooth codec, called LC3, can be enabled for Apple AirPods Max.
June 25 update. Another report has just emerged with new information and renders of what the next AirPods Pro may look like. According to 52audiothere are lots of new features coming, not just the sound improvement predicted below.
New information has come to 52Audio, the site claims, that suggests an upgraded H1 chip. Well, that conforms with the predictions below, so that’s a good start.
But it then gets much more intriguing. The new chip, it’s claimed, will have self-adaptive active noise-cancelling. I’m not sure exactly how that would work but it suggests that like some over-ear headphones, it adjusts the way it cancels incoming noise according to whether you’re on the move, in the street, in a room and so on.
Also predicted is a new Find My function. This chimes with rumors claiming that the charging case will be able to make a noise so they’re easier to find.
In previous reports, this has led to images of the case with what looks like a speaker on the side. The new report, however, says the new charging case will have speaker grille on the bottom and the side area has “multiple openings” which “are added on both sides of the USB-C port at the bottom, and two larger openings on the right side are protected by a decorative metal structure.
“We also find that the openings on the right side are the microphone for the hearing aid. Sound can be collected through the charging case and transmitted to the earphone for sound enhancement and playback, helping people with hearing loss get the environment sound. The speaker is at the bottom, which can play the sound itself, and works with the “Find My” app to help users get the location of the charging case more quickly.
The hearing loss element is especially interesting, suggesting that rumors of the next AirPods Pro working as a hearing aid could be correct.
The other big change coming, it’s claimed, is heart rate detection. There have been reports of health upgrades coming to the earbuds (backed up by comments from an Apple exec) and this would certainly qualify.
Heart rate detection would use inner ear data to monitor the heart rate and there are also rumors of temperature detection, though the site is less sure of whether this will transpire.
Oh, and the design of the new AirPods Pro will look very similar to the current model, scotching rumors of a stemless new look.
Back to the cool new codec…
apple leaker ShrimpApplePro tweeted about the claim, referring to their leak that L3C was coming.
This will mean that the headphones will have better-quality voice calls, for a start. But it also suggests that AirPods Pro 2 could have substantially improved music playback quality. The developer was able to enable LC3 (that’s Low Complexity Communication Codec) through the beta firmware on AirPods Max.
That’s great for voice calls and for Bluetooth stability, but the real uptick in quality will likely come with hardware that supports Bluetooth 5.2, which AirPods Max do not. Which leads us to the AirPods Pro 2, that is, the next headphones expected to be launched by Apple.
According to 9to5Mac, the next version of the Apple H1 chip, an audio processor, which could handle Bluetooth 5.2, will be in the next AirPods Pro.
Although it’s not a confirmation, the presence in the iPhone iOS 16 software of references to LC3 and support for low-energy audio support significantly ramps up the possibility that the next AirPods Pro will have something of a holy grail for music lovers: lossless audio.
That’s possible from some models of iPhone but not via any existing AirPods. The prospect of lossless audio has been mooted by reliable analysts like Ming-Chi Kuo, and this new evidence reinforces the idea that it may be coming.
The low energy part of the equation suggests that battery life will be improved, too. Even if it’s not in AirPods Pro 2, this is a great upgrade for AirPods Max. But I believe the next-gen earbuds will see this upgrade.