Another day, another Apple patent app. As usual, this is not an indicator of what’s actually coming down the pipe, but at least a glimpse of what engineers and designers at Apple have considered at one point or another.
Still, it’s always possible that some, if not all, of these features see the light of day in a real world product. So, courtesy of 9to5Mac who caught the new patent application that was recently granted to Apple, let’s take a look at what the AirPods may adopt at some point in the future.
The first is a universal design, which would make it easier for AirPods customers in the future to simply put one of the truly wireless earbuds into an ear and call it good. No longer have to worry about having the “left” AirPod in the left ear. This would be handled with biometric sensors within each AirPod. This may help streamline things a bit, and it could even mean an easier replacement process for consumers who run into issues down the line.
Here’s a quick description from Apple regarding the design in the patent app:
“This application relates to earbuds configured with one or more biometric sensors. At least one of the biometric sensors is configured to be pressed up against a portion of the tragus for making biometric measurements. In some embodiments, the housing of the earbud can be symmetric so that the earbud can be worn interchangeably in either a left or a right ear of a user. In such an embodiment, the earbud can include a sensor and circuitry configured to determine and alter operation of the earbud in accordance to which ear the earbud is determined to be sitting in.”
Interestingly, Apple may have to make a change to the AirPods to facilitate these changes. According to the information within the patent, Apple knows that the biometric sensors work best when they are placed firmly against the skin. The hard plastic design of the current AirPods might not make that all that easy, or comfortable. So expanding foam is touched on in the patent app. How that would look in the final product remains to be seen, and it would be a distinct change in design compared to the current model if Apple did go down that route.
A new design is reportedly in the works, though. A separate report from the analyst Ming-Chi Kuo stated recently that Apple is planning on introducing the AirPods with a wireless charging case in early 2019, and that, sometime in 2020, the company will introduce a new pair of AirPods with a new design. Could we see expanding foam instead of hard plastic by then? It’s certainly possible.
The universal approach for headphones is something Apple is apparently very interested in. The company is also reportedly working on a pair of over-ear headphones as well, which could adopt similar features as well. Those headphones may launch in 2019.