Apple’s AirPods to Get Big Changes and Price Drop, Says Report

Apple is set to launch a series of changes for its popular AirPods earbuds, aiming to expand its wearables business and improve user health monitoring capabilities. The company is also transitioning to USB-C charging ports and contemplating lower price points for its products. That’s according to Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman in the latest edition of his PowerOn newsletter.

Since the introduction of AirPods seven years ago, the wireless earbuds have become one of Apple’s top products, generating several billion dollars a year. Heck, they’ve become a fashion statement as well. They have played a big role in the quadrupling of revenue for Apple’s Wearables, Home, and Accessories category since their launch, reaching $41 billion last year.

Among the notable changes set to boost the AirPods line according to Gurman::

  • A new hearing test feature that plays varying tones and sounds, enabling AirPods to gauge a user’s hearing capacity. This functionality aims to help users screen for hearing problems, much like how the Apple Watch ECG app checks for heart issues.
  • The company is exploring how to leverage AirPods as a hearing aid, a sector worth $10 billion annually and ripe for innovation.
  • The addition of sensors to the AirPods, enabling them to measure body temperature via a user’s ear canal. This method is deemed more accurate than wrist temperature, which is collected by the Apple Watch Series 8 and Ultra models during sleep.
  • While the health features may take several months or even years to develop fully, other updates are on the horizon. As part of the iPhone 15’s transition from Lightning to a USB-C port, Apple plans to make a similar switch on the AirPods Pro’s charging case.

Moreover, there are considerations to reduce the price of the cheapest AirPods. The second-generation models, currently priced at $129 USD ($179 CAD), could potentially drop to $99 USD ($131 CAD), providing even more value to consumers and enhancing competitiveness against new offerings from rivals such as Samsung, Sony, and Amazon, says Gurman.

The AirPods will also play a key role in the new Vision Pro headset, says Gurman. Although the headset has built-in speakers, a special pairing algorithm exists with the second-generation AirPods Pro models, offering a more immersive audio experience.

Last month at WWDC, Apple previewed several new AirPods features launching alongside iOS 17. The updates include a button press to mute and unmute calls, improvements for switching between devices paired to AirPods, and Adaptive Audio for automatic transitioning between noise cancellation and transparency modes.

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