It is among all things possible that Apple isn’t done with goodies for the holidays. One of the items not mentioned in either of Apple’s two fall special events was the AirPods. But according to Apple Insider, “Health-tracking AirPods are on the way, suggests Bluetooth group’s records.”
“The filing discovered by MySmartPriceincludes the name ‘AirPods,’ with the listing first published by the Bluetooth SIG on November 1. The filing advises of a few things, such as there being model numbers A2031 and A2032 for the accessories, though it is unclear if this refers to two specific versions or relate to there being two units for each pair. “
We have been hearing credible rumors of an overdue AirPods refresh all year. One of the earlier rumors was that Apple was working on two different pairs of AirPods. One would be an ambitious new product that included noise cancelation as a marquee feature. That product was not expected until sometime in 2019.
But a more modest refresh would include adding “Hey Siri” to the earphones themselves. It would eliminate the need to double-tap the AirPods for activation. That product was predicted to be released in late 2018. Among the rumored features was added health tracking capabilities. The article expands on the rumor.
“One set of filings discovered in March 2017 suggested the use of “Earbuds with biometric sensing,” including a photoplethysmogram (PPG) sensor as used in the Apple Watch, galvanic skin response, EKG, impedance cardiography, VO2 sensor, and thermometer.”
Even if all of this was a part of the original plan, it is unlikely to see some sort of EKG sensing ability since Apple has recently added that feature to the Apple Watch Series 4. Apple does hold a number of health-related patents for wearable devices. Still, that is no indication of what Apple is actually planning.
One thing we do know about Apple’s plans for the AirPods is to bring wireless charging to them as soon as possible. We know this because Apple announced it over a year ago at 2017 WWDC. They proudly presented a custom charging mat called AirPower. Its defining feature was that it could charge an iPhone, Apple Watch, and AirPods at the same time. Apple was going to offer an AirPods case compatible with the charger. They have not spoken of it since.
Some people with insider knowledge about the project have suggested that after running into irreconcilable technical difficulties, they may have scrapped it altogether. Others say that Apple is still working on it and that it will be out sometime next year. It seems Apple is close to releasing some sort of update to the AirPods. We will just have to wait and see if AirPower makes the Christmas shopping list.