'AirPods': Here's all the evidence that Apple will launch wireless earbuds with iPhone 7
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Apple will launch wireless "AirPods" earbuds with iPhone 7. But the rumours and leaks are piling up. Apple is highly incentivised to launch a radical new earphone product, but we will not know for sure until the iPhone 7 launch event next week.
In the meantime, here is everything we know about the potential existence of AirPods:
- Gurman says it's happening: Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, the dean of Apple leak reporting, first noted eight months ago that Apple and its Beats headphones unit were working on wireless earphones: We are hesitant to say that Gurman is never wrong. But he has a great track record. He wrote: "Apple is prototyping a completely new set of Bluetooth earphones with the potential of launching the accessory alongside the iPhone 7 this fall. The new earphones are said to be completely wireless, which is to say that they do not even have a cable connecting the left and right ear pieces. Sources say that the headphones are similar in concept to the Motorola Hint headset (pictured above) and Bragi's new Dash headphones that were shown at CES this week. ... Apple has registered the "AirPods" trademark which may be what these are called."
- We already know their product features. AirPods may contain functions for a noise-cancelling microphone, phone calls, Siri, and different sizes for different ears, Gurman said at the time.
- The trademark exists. Apple has already applied for a trademark for AirPods, according to MacRumors in October 2015:
- Apple doesn't want to draw attention to AirPods. Apple may be using shell companies to disguise its ownership of the AirPods brand, according to Apple Insider.
- The company is working on a new low-power Bluetooth chip. Apple has developed a custom Bluetooth chip for wireless earbuds that improves their battery life.
- There is already a patent diagram. Apple has applied for a patent for a cordless headphone system, according to Mikey Campbell of Apple Insider. It looks like this:
USPTO / Apple Insider
- Beats is definitely launching something new. We know that Beats will be launching "a selection of new Beats by Dre products" at the iPhone 7 launch next week.
- The economics make sense. Bluetooth headphones are now the majority of headphone sales by dollar revenue. They are also the fastest-growing market segment of headphones, according to retail data from NPD. It does not make sense for Apple to continue selling wire-connected earbuds when the market is clearly signalling it wants wireless devices.
- Leaked packaging contains the word "AirPods." Some purported "leaked" iPhone 7 packaging mentions AirPods, according to Apple Insider. The leak is unconfirmed and questionable. But this is what it looks like: