Apple Planning New AirPods Featuring Upgraded Wireless Chip, Water Resistance, Hey Siri Functionality

After a year of inactivity, it appears that Apple is going to spend the next two years improving the AirPods, adding major features such as voice-activated controls and water resistance.

A new report from Bloomberg says Apple is currently working on the next two models, to be released in 2018 and 2019. One could debut later this year with an updated wireless chip and another with a water-resistant design may come out in 2019.

The 2018 hardware refresh would include not only an improved W chip (possibly the W2 added to the Apple Watch last year, or perhaps even a W3) but also the ability to activate Siri just by voice, rather than by physically tapping the AirPod in your ear, as is the case currently:

The model coming as early as this year will let people summon Apple’s Siri digital assistant without physically tapping the headphones by saying “Hey Siri.” The function will work similarly to how a user activates Siri on an iPhone or a HomePod speaker hands-free. The headphones, internally known as B288, will include an upgraded Apple-designed wireless chip for managing Bluetooth connections. The first AirPods include a chip known as the W1, and Apple released the W2 with the Apple Watch last year.

Another AirPods model that’s reportedly planned for a 2019 debut would feature a water-resistant design, built to withstand rain and splashes. It’s unlikely that these AirPods would survive being submerged in water for long periods of time, but they could easily handle a sudden downpour or an unexpected dip.

Part of Apple’s “Others Products” section that also includes Beats headphones, Apple Watch, Apple TV, and other accessories, the wireless AirPods first launched in December 2016. Since then, the product has remained popular with reviewers and consumers alike and helped push increase sales in this sector by 36 percent year over year.

These aren’t the only two new Apple AirPods products expected to launch in the next two years. Back in September, Apple announced plans to launch a new wireless charging case for AirPods. Though an official launch date was never announced, most expect it to arrive soon alongside the company’s long-delayed AirPower charging pad.

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