DigiTimes: Future AirPods to Include ‘Ambient Light Sensors’

Apple is reportedly looking to integrate light sensors in a new model of AirPods in the next couple of years, according to a new report today. In a paywalled article, DigiTimes reports that ASE Technology could be involved in manufacturing the sensors:

Apple is expected to incorporate ambient light sensors (ALS) in next-generation ‌AirPods‌ devices in the coming 1-2 years, and Taiwan’s ASE Technology may handle the backend process for the new component, as it has moved to purchase more packaging machines, according to industry sources.

The preview of the report doesn’t specify what function the ambient light sensors would provide, but it’s possible they would replace the optical sensors that ‌AirPods‌ currently use to detect when they’re being worn.

However, it’s unclear why Apple would want to use a more advanced type of sensor to replicate this existing functionality. DigiTimes‘ sources often provide reliable information, but the site has a mixed track record when it comes to interpreting that information and accurately deciphering Apple’s plans. On that basis, it’s conceivable that the sensors could be related to rumored health monitoring features like heart rate and/or blood oxygen saturation from the ear.

Clip-on finger pulse oximeters work by shining red and infrared light through the blood vessels and a light detector measures the volume of blood oxygen based on the amount of light that passes through the finger. These sensors can also be used to measure pulse rate.

In hospitals, ear-based clip-on pulse oximeters work on the same principle and shine light through the earlobe. Part of the light is absorbed by the skin and the part not absorbed reaches the light sensor on the other side.

It’s unclear whether Apple could achieve a similar function without redesigning the way ‌AirPods‌ and AirPods Pro sit in the ear. As things stand, a more likely candidate for the technology would be Apple’s fitness-oriented earphones: Powerbeats Pro sport an over ear design similar to Freewavz’s true wireless earphones, which feature integrated pulse oximeters for measuring blood oxygen and heart rate.


Early last year, DigiTimes claimed that Apple would release next-generation ‌AirPods‌ with “health monitoring features” in the first half of 2019. While Apple launched second-generation ‌AirPods‌ in March 2019, health monitoring smarts were conspicuously absent.

DigiTimes receives a flood of data from the Asian supply chain, some of which it claims pertains to prototypes or test products that never make it to market or change significantly before launch, skewing its accuracy. Given that caveat, it’s possible Apple held back the health monitoring features for a future ‌AirPods‌ model. We certainly know Apple has explored how it might incorporate health monitoring features into future ‌AirPods‌.

One Apple patent describes an earbud-based fitness monitoring system which integrates an advanced biometric sensor that can detect physiological metrics including temperature, heart rate, perspiration levels and more, through skin contact and via built-in motion sensors.

Blood oxygen monitoring is useful for measuring fitness and recovery, but it can also reveal health conditions like sleep apnea and other issues. Apple is expected to activate the feature in a future Apple Watch model, and CEO Tim Cook has highlighted Apple’s interest in health as a major focus that may actually end up being “Apple’s greatest contribution to mankind.”

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When to Expect New AirPods, Including Rumored ‘Studio’ and ‘X’ Models

Rumors suggest that Apple plans to expand its AirPods lineup with two new models later this year, including high-end, over-ear “AirPods Studio” and in-ear “AirPods X” with a BeatsX-like design for running and exercising. This would be followed by refreshes to both the regular AirPods and the AirPods Pro in 2021.



Here is where rumors stand:

  • AirPods Studio — Summer or Fall 2020: Apple plans to release high-end over-ear headphones with noise cancellation this year, according to Bloomberg‘s Mark Gurman. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo believes that mass production of the headphones will begin in mid 2020, with shipments to Apple reportedly set to begin in June or July. The headphones will be named AirPods Studio and retail for $349, according to Jon Prosser, host of the YouTube channel Front Page Tech. Prosser said the headphones could be announced at WWDC 2020, which kicks off June 22.

  • AirPods X — Fall 2020: Last month, Prosser claimed that Apple was planning to release so-called “AirPods X” around September or October with a BeatsX-like design for running and exercising. Kuo acknowledged this rumor, noting that any new AirPods model coming in the second half of 2020 is “more likely to be the new Beats model.”

  • AirPods — Spring 2021: Third-generation AirPods will enter mass production in the first half of 2021, according to Kuo, suggesting that the regular AirPods will not be refreshed until next year. Kuo expects internal design changes, but he did not indicate if there will be any external changes. The original AirPods launched in December 2016, followed by a second-generation refresh in March 2019.
  • AirPods Pro — Fall 2021: Second-generation AirPods Pro will enter mass production between the fourth quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022, according to Kuo, suggesting that a refresh is well over a year away. No further details are known. The current AirPods Pro launched at the end of October 2019.

Keep track of our various AirPods roundups linked below for the latest rumors.

Related Roundups: AirPods 2, AirPods Pro, AirPods Studio
Buyer’s Guide: AirPods (Neutral), AirPods Pro (Buy Now)

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Apple Updates Second-Generation AirPods Firmware to Version 2D15

A week after releasing a new firmware update for the AirPods Pro, Apple has pushed the same firmware to the second-generation AirPods, updating them from the previous 2A364 firmware to the new 2D15 firmware.


Apple didn’t make it clear what’s new in the refreshed firmware at this time, and ‌AirPods Pro‌ owners had mixed reactions to the update, with some saying that it improved Active Noise Cancellation and others finding that it did not.

The second-generation ‌AirPods‌ don’t have Active Noise Cancellation, so it’s unknown what improvements are included in the firmware. ‌AirPods‌ firmware updates often provide performance improvements, bug fixes, and feature tweaks.

You can check to see what firmware your ‌AirPods‌ have installed by following these steps:

  1. Make sure the ‌‌‌AirPods‌‌‌ are connected to your iOS device.
  2. Open the Settings app.
  3. Tap General.
  4. Tap About.
  5. Tap ‌‌‌AirPods‌‌‌.
  6. Look at the number next to “Firmware Version.”

Apple hasn’t provided explicit instructions to customers on how to initiate a firmware update, but activating the ‌AirPods‌ with audio and then putting them in the case and connecting them to a power source seems to be a reliable way of forcing an update.

Apple in December released the 2C54 firmware update, but later pulled it, so it’s worth noting that some people who updated right away have the 2C54 firmware while others are still on 2A364.

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Apple’s Greg Joswiak on AirPods Growth: ‘It Was Almost Like Wildfire’

Apple’s AirPods have been doing better than the company could have ever imagined, Apple’s Vice President of Product Marketing Greg Joswiak said in a new report by Wired. Joswiak notes how the growth of AirPods “was almost like wildfire.”


Joswiak touched upon Apple’s vision for a wireless future. Apple crossed a pivotal point in its push towards a wireless future with the controversial decision to remove the headphone jack from its iPhone lineup beginning in 2016 with the launch of the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.

We had this incredible wireless product, the iPhone. And yet, what began to feel odd is when you saw somebody using wired headphones. Right then you thought, why would you attach the wire?

Joswiak also shared some of the development stages of the AirPods lineup.

We had done work with Stanford to 3D-scan hundreds of different ears and ear styles and shapes in order to make a design that would work as a one-size solution across a broad set of the population. With AirPods Pro, we took that research further – studied more ears, more ear types. And that enabled us to develop a design that, along with the three different tip sizes, works across an overwhelming percentage of the worldwide population.

Apple recently reported its financial results for the second fiscal quarter of 2020, and Apple CEO Tim Cook proudly announced that a quarterly record for wearables had been set. In the first fiscal quarter of 2020, Cook had also announced that Apple’s wearables category had set a new all-time revenue record. In addition, it was mentioned that Apple’s wearables business is now the size of a Fortune 150 company.

Apple’s first generation AirPods were first launched alongside the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus in 2016. Since then, Apple’s second-generation AirPods launched in March 2019, while the AirPods Pro were released at the end of October.

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Apple’s Over-Ear Headphones May Be Called ‘AirPods Studio’ and Cost $349

Apple’s rumored high-end over-ear headphones may be called “AirPods Studio” and retail for $349, according to Jon Prosser of YouTube channel Front Page Tech.



In keeping with the successful ‌AirPods‌ brand, the rumored “Studio” over-ear headphones would significantly diversify Apple’s ‌AirPods‌ lineup, which last added the in-ear AirPods Pro in October 2019. The supposed price of $349 would place “‌AirPods‌ Studio” as a direct competitor to high-end noise-canceling over-ear headphones from Bose and Sony.

Prosser has previously accurately leaked the April 15 launch date of the new iPhone SE and, most recently, the May 4 launch date of the refreshed 13-inch MacBook Pro.

Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo expects Apple’s over-hear headphones to enter mass production in mid-2020, which may suggest a fall 2020 launch.

Related Roundup: AirPods 2
Tags: Apple over-ear headphones, Jon Prosser
Buyer’s Guide: AirPods (Neutral)

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Apple’s Plan to Introduce New AirPods Later This Year Reportedly Delayed

Apple’s plan to release an updated version of AirPods later this year has been delayed due to the global health crisis, according to the Nikkei Asian Review.



This lines up with a recent report from analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who said that mass production of third-generation AirPods will begin in the first half of 2021, followed by mass production of second-generation AirPods Pro between the fourth quarter of 2021 and the first quarter of 2022. Kuo also expects Apple’s rumored high-end over-ear headphones to enter mass production at some point in mid-2020.

Kuo did acknowledge rumors of new AirPods coming in the second half of 2020, but he said they are “more likely to be the new Beats model.” Last month, leaker Jon Prosser claimed that Apple was planning to release so-called “AirPods X” around September or October with a BeatsX-like design for sports and running.

Apple’s second-generation AirPods launched in March 2019, while the AirPods Pro were released at the end of October.

Related Roundup: AirPods 2
Tag: nikkei.com
Buyer’s Guide: AirPods (Neutral)

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Kuo: Mass Production on Third-Gen AirPods Starting in First Half of 2020, Design Unchanged But New Internals

Apple is working on third-generation AirPods that will go into mass production during the first half of 2020, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said in a note to investors today.


The new ‌AirPods‌ will adopt the System-in-Package used for the AirPods Pro, replacing the rigid-flex PCB+SMT design of the second-generation ‌AirPods‌. Kuo says that these internal updates will be the biggest change to the third-generation ‌AirPods‌, suggesting the update will not include design changes and will continue to look like second-generation ‌AirPods‌.

The third-generation ‌AirPods‌ will go to mass production in 1H20, and the most significant change of the internal design of this new model is the adoption of SiP to replace the rigid-flex PCB+SMT design of second-generation ‌AirPods‌. We believe that Apple will pull in this new model because of the declining demand for second-generation ‌AirPods‌. Luxshare ICT will be the main supplier for this new model.

There have been rumors that Apple is working on a set of ‌AirPods Pro‌ without Active Noise Cancellation that will feature the ‌AirPods Pro‌ design at a lower price point, but Kuo does not mention these earbuds.

He does, however, say that the market is expecting a new ‌AirPods‌ model in the second half of 2020, but that this is more likely to be a new set of Beats instead of a new set of ‌AirPods‌, so it’s possible all of the “‌AirPods Pro‌ Lite” rumors are referencing new headphones in the Beats lineup.

As for the ‌AirPods Pro‌, Kuo says that a new model will go into mass production in the fourth quarter of 2021 to the first quarter of 2022, which suggests no ‌AirPods Pro‌ refresh in 2020 or early 2021. We can expect Apple’s high-end over-ear headphones in 2020, though, as Kuo says that these will enter mass production in mid-2020.

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DigiTimes: New AirPods to Feature AirPods Pro Design Without Noise Cancellation

Apple plans to release new AirPods with the same design as the existing AirPods Pro but without active noise cancellation, allowing for a lower price point, according to supply chain sources cited by Taiwanese publication DigiTimes.


The paywalled report claims that Apple originally planned to unveil the new AirPods in May 2020, and while Apple has apparently not yet made any adjustments to that release schedule, the supply chain sources believe that Apple may have to postpone the launch to the second half of 2020 or even 2021 due to the global health crisis.

An excerpt from the report:

Apple may have to defer the launch of its new AirPods Pro to the second half of 2020 or even 2021, according to sources at related suppliers.

Apple originally planned to unveil the new AirPods Pro in May 2020, but the schedule may be pushed back, as Apple has been unable to send staff to the production lines in Asia to inspect the status of the TWS earbuds due to the coronavirus outbreak, the sources noted.

But Apple so far has not yet made any adjustments to the earbuds’ release schedule, the sources said.

The report refers to the earphones as new AirPods Pro, but it is quite possible these could end up being regular third-generation AirPods.

The current lineup includes second-generation AirPods with a wired charging case for $159, second-generation AirPods with a wireless charging case for $199, and AirPods Pro with a wireless charging case for $249.

Over the weekend, leaker Jon Prosser said new AirPods are “ready to go” and will “probably” launch next month.

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Leaker Says Apple Planning iPad Air With Under-the-Screen Touch ID, ARM-Based 12-Inch MacBook, Game Controller, and More

An anonymous Twitter account with a fairly accurate track record has shared details about several Apple products that are supposedly under development.


Some of the products mentioned by the account have not been extensively rumored until now, including a new iPad Air with under-the-screen Touch ID, an ARM-based 12-inch MacBook, and an Apple game controller by 2021.

On March 12, the account claimed that Apple is developing so-called “AirPods X” headphones, as leaker Jon Prosser later mentioned on April 7.


Corroborating existing rumors, the account also claims that Apple plans to release third-generation AirPods, refreshed 13-inch MacBook Pro and iMac models, a low-cost iPad with an A12 Bionic chip, a smaller HomePod, a new Apple TV, a small wireless charging pad for a single device, and four iPhone 12 models with an A14 chip, 5G support, smaller notch, a ProMotion refresh rate of up to 120Hz, and a new Navy Blue color option.


In recent weeks, the account has noted that some products and components have been delayed, including the new iMac models and the A14 chip.


The same Twitter account accurately revealed several details about the new iPhone SE before any other leakers that we know of, including that the device would launch in the second week of April and come in three storage capacities. Likewise, the account accurately claimed that new iPad Pro models would launch in the third week of March.


The account has had a few small misses, including that iOS 13.4 would be released on March 25. The software update arrived one day earlier.

Given the account’s accuracy so far, several of these rumored Apple products could be legitimate.


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New AirPods Allegedly Ready to Launch, Possibly Next Month

Next generation AirPods that were allegedly supposed to be announced at Apple’s rumored March event are ready to launch, according to Jon Prosser of the YouTube channel Front Page Tech. Prosser believes the new ‌AirPods‌ could launch sometime next month, although he is not firm on timing yet.



It is unclear at this time as to what new features Apple’s next-generation ‌AirPods‌ will sport. One possibility is that the earphones will feature the same in-ear design as the AirPods Pro without Active Noise Cancellation.

In February, Taiwanese industry publication DigiTimes made a passing reference to upcoming “AirPod Pro Lite” earphones without offering any details on the product, leading to confusion about whether this would be a third-generation version of the regular ‌AirPods‌ or a new member of the ‌AirPods Pro‌ family.

Prosser believes the new ‌AirPods‌ could launch alongside the rumored 13-inch MacBook Pro refresh next month. He also recently claimed that Apple is targeting WWDC to launch new high-end over-ear headphones and September-October to launch BeatsX-like “‌AirPods‌ X.”

Related Roundups: AirPods 2, AirPods Pro
Tags: AirPods Pro Lite, Jon Prosser
Buyer’s Guide: AirPods (Neutral), AirPods Pro (Buy Now)

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