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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Apple’s ‘Bounce’ AirPods Ad Wins ‘Best of Advertising’ Award

Apple’s creative “Bounce” ad designed to highlight the AirPods took top honors in the 99th annual ADC (Art Director’s Club) awards for advertising, earning the “Best of Discipline” award along with two Gold Cube awards in the craft in video and branded content categories.


Released in June 2019, the ad features a bored man who pulls his ‌AirPods‌ off of their wireless charging pad and then pops outside to bounce over street items that are bouncy like a trampoline. The song “I Learnt Some Jazz Today” plays in the background while he bounces throughout town.

The ad was created by Apple’s longtime advertising partner TBWAMedia Arts Lab, and the One Club website where awards are announced has a behind the scenes video that gives some insight into how it was filmed. All of the physical bouncing was done in camera with various props, with a city set built in an airport hangar.


Apple content won other awards too. Apple’s AirPods Pro ads on Apple Stores worldwide earned a Silver Cube award, the opening theme for “The Morning Show” won a Bronze Cube award, and the “Snowbrawl” video won a Bronze Cube award.

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Deals: AirPods With Wireless Charging Case Return to $149.98 on Amazon, While AirPods Pro Remain at Low Price of $220

Amazon has returned the AirPods with Wireless Charging Case to their low price of $149.98, down from $199.00. This is the Amazon all-time-low price that appeared earlier in the month, and it remains the best deal we’ve ever tracked for this model of the 2019 AirPods.

Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment, which helps us keep the site running.

These AirPods include Apple’s Wireless Charging Case, which allows you to refuel the headphones on any Qi-compatible wireless charging mat. If you place an order today, Amazon’s delivery estimate states that the AirPods should arrive between Monday, May 25 and Wednesday, May 27.

$49 OFF

AirPods w/ Wireless Charging Case for $149.98

If you’re shopping for the AirPods Pro, Verizon still has the best deal around: you can get the high-end wireless AirPods Pro for $219.99, down from $249.00 for a limited time. This $30 discount is applied automatically after you place the AirPods Pro in your shopping cart.

Verizon supports free two day shipping, and some retail stores are offering same-day pick-up for some locations across the United States. This is $5 under AT&T’s current price on the headphones, and one of the lowest prices we have ever seen for new AirPods Pro.

$30 OFF

AirPods Pro for $219.99

We track sales for every model of the AirPods in our Best AirPods Deals guide, so be sure to bookmark that page while you shop around for the wireless headphones.

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Apple’s ‘AirPods Studio’ Over-Ear Headphones Have Reportedly Kicked Off Production

We’ve been hearing quite a bit recently about Apple’s long-rumored over-ear headphones, said to be called “AirPods Studio,” and it looks like a launch may be coming in the relatively near future.

Artist mockup based on Beats Studio3

Rumors have generally suggested a summer or fall launch for ‌AirPods Studio‌, with a report earlier this week claiming that suppliers in Vietnam will begin shipments to Apple in June or July, but a new report from Taiwanese site DigiTimes indicates that production on the new headphones is already underway.

As Apple is likely to accelerate dropping its wired earphones, the vendor will resume normal shipments for AirPods 2 in the second half of the year and its new over-ear headphones, dubbed ‌AirPods Studio‌, has also kicked off production, all securing growth momentum for rigid-flex boards suppliers for the devices, including Unitech Printed Circuit Board and Compeq Manufacturing, the sources said.

The mention comes in a larger story about circuit board suppliers for the whole ‌AirPods‌ lineup and doesn’t include any further details on the ‌AirPods Studio‌, but it certainly looks like a launch is coming sooner rather than later.

Apple’s virtual Worldwide Developers Conference, which kicks off exactly one month from today, could be a good opportunity to introduce the new headphones, although they are not necessarily a developer-focused product and so Apple may opt for a separate launch so as to not distract from the focus of the event.

Among the ‌AirPods Studio‌ details revealed in recent rumors are a $349 price point matching the Beats Studio3 pricing, a pair of models in premium leather-like and more breathable fitness-friendly fabrics, ear and headband padding that attaches magnetically for easy swapping, and embedded sensors for head and neck detection and automatically routing left and right audio channels to the appropriate earcups regardless of which way the headphones are worn.

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AirPods Pro Starting to Be Assembled in Vietnam

Apple has been seeking to add geographic diversity to its supply chain for some time now, with a shift of some production of the AirPods lineup to Vietnam being one significant step for the company.

Photo via @alixrezax

Apple reportedly began trialing production of regular ‌AirPods‌ in Vietnam almost a year ago, and it was reported in December that Apple’s ‌AirPods‌ suppliers were looking to line up financing to expand production.

And just two weeks ago, Nikkei reported that mass production of regular ‌AirPods‌ in Vietnam had started in March.

“The mass production of ‌AirPods‌ in Vietnam started as early as in March,” a person familiar with the matter said. “The Vietnamese officials even granted special permits for a key Apple ‌AirPods‌ assembler to help the company bring in engineers to the country for smooth production during lockdowns.” Vietnam began easing some lockdown measures in late April.

At the time, Nikkei said that the production shift did “not yet include” the higher-end AirPods Pro, but it now appears that ‌AirPods Pro‌ production has indeed begun in Vietnam as several MacRumors readers including @alixrezax on Twitter and “rhyzome” in our forums have reported this week receiving their ‌AirPods Pro‌ with “Assembled in Vietnam” shown on the charging cases.

Vietnam has long been a hotbed for Apple’s audio accessory production, with even older models like wired EarPods having been produced in the country, and it looks like there’s no sign of a slowdown. In fact, a report earlier this week claimed that Apple’s over-ear “AirPods Studio” headphones will be partly produced in Vietnam from their debut for the first time, with shipments expected to begin in June or July.

Production of Apple products in Vietnam may also be expanding to the iPhone, as DigiTimes reported yesterday that Apple has asked its ‌iPhone‌ manufacturing partners to expand production in India and Vietnam. Key partner Foxconn already has significant assembly facilities in the country.


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Microsoft’s Surface Earbuds vs. AirPods

Back in October, Microsoft decided to get into the wire-free earbuds market with the debut of the Surface Earbuds, designed to compete with Apple’s AirPods, Google’s Pixel Buds, and Samsung’s Galaxy Buds.

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We picked up a pair of Microsoft’s Surface Earbuds to check out the feature set and see how they measure up to Apple’s ‌AirPods‌.

Priced at $199, the Surface Earbuds have a design that’s rather… unique. There’s an AirPods-style earpiece that fits into the ear, along with a circular exterior portion that’s rather large and noticeable, designed primarily for touch gestures. The Surface Earbuds are not low-key, hard to see headphones — it’s obvious when you’re wearing them.


When it comes to fit, the Surface Earbuds are relatively comfortable. The ‌AirPods‌ kind of rest on the outside of the ears, while the Surface Earbuds are designed to fit a bit deeper in the ear canal, though not as deep as the AirPods Pro.


Surface Earbuds come with small, medium, and large tips, so most people should be able to get a decent fit. We found them to be uncomfortable to wear at first, but after they settled in for a few hours, the Surface Earbuds were more comfortable to wear.


The design of the Surface Earbuds definitely looks a bit funky, but it’s functional because of the simple and effective gesture set, which uses the large surface area of each earbud.


A double tap plays/pauses music, a swipe on the left earbud skips tracks, and a swipe on the right earbud controls the volume. ‌AirPods‌ don’t have gesture controls for volume, which is one of the major negatives when it comes to ‌AirPods‌ gestures.

There are also controls for accessing voice-based help and answering/ending phone calls, plus several Microsoft apps can take advantage of Surface Earbuds gestures. On an Android phone, for example, a triple tap on either earbud opens up the Spotify app. On iOS, you can listen to, delete, and reply to emails with touch and voice using the Outlook app, and in PowerPoint, you can swipe to advance slides, enable live captions and subtitles, and have what you’re saying be translated into one of 60 languages.

Sound quality on the Surface Earbuds was somewhat unimpressive. The low end was disappointing and on the whole, music playback had a tinny quality. There is an app that accompanies the Surface Earbuds for EQ adjustments, which helps improve the sound somewhat. There’s no Active Noise Cancellation, so the only sound isolating comes from the fit of the Surface Earbuds in the ear.


The Surface Earbuds have a six to eight hour battery life, which is extended to 24 hours with the included USB-C charging case, which has a rectangular design reminiscent of a little coffin. The case charges over USB-C, and there’s no wireless charging included.


When paired with a Surface device or a Windows PC running Windows 10, which is what the Surface Earbuds are designed to work with, there’s a Swift Pair feature for fast pairing, but on iOS devices, the connection will need to be done through Bluetooth settings.


Surface Earbuds are fine if you plan to use them with a PC or a Surface device, but there’s no reason to pick these up if you’re planning to use them with a Mac or an iPhone because the full feature set is restricted to Windows. Given the $199 price point, these are best for those who are in Microsoft’s ecosystem rather than Apple’s.

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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)

This article, “When to Expect New AirPods, Including Rumored ‘Studio’ and ‘X’ Models” first appeared on MacRumors.com

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Kuo: iPhone 12 May Not Come With EarPods in the Box, Apple to Introduce AirPods Promotion in Second Half of 2020

Apple’s upcoming “iPhone 12” may not come with EarPods included in the box, as a means of driving driving demand for the company’s popular wireless AirPods, which are sold separately, according to reputable Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.


Apple has included earbuds with the iPhone ever since the first model of the smartphone launched, in large part because the ‌iPhone‌ was pitched as a natural extension of the iPod – a music player that also made phone calls.

However, in a TF International Securities research note issued to investors today and seen by MacRumors, Kuo said he expects Apple to leave out the traditional wired earphones that come with iPhones, which expects will usher in strong demand for ‌AirPods‌ shipments this year.

In addition to the need for new ‌iPhone‌ users to supply their own earphones, Kuo expects an uptick in ‌AirPods‌ shipments to be driven by an end to ‌AirPods‌ inventory depletion by the second half of the year, coupled with the possibility that Apple will offer a special ‌AirPods‌ promotion in late 2020.

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Over-Ear ‘AirPods Studio’ Will Reportedly Be Assembled in Vietnam in Mid 2020

Apple Reopening 25 US Stores and 12 in Canada This Week

Apple will reopen more than 25 stores across the U.S. and 12 stores in Canada this week, reports Bloomberg’s Mark Gurman. The decision follows a published letter on Sunday from the company’s senior VP of retail, Deirdre O’Brien, detailing the safety measures that Apple is taking as it gradually re-opens stores across the globe. These include temperature checks conducted at the door, limited …

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HTC Making Earbuds That Look Just Like AirPods

HTC is working on new “HTC U Ear” earbuds that look like they took some design cues from Apple’s AirPods. Photos of the upcoming earbuds were found in regulatory documents by Android Police (via The Verge).


Design wise, the U Ear earbuds from HTC could be mistaken for black AirPods, featuring the same general design for the in-ear portion and a stem that hangs outside of the ear. The earbuds do have one major difference though – there are charging pins on the front.


The charging case looks similar to the AirPods Charging Case as well, though not identical, and it does open up length wise like the Powerbeats Pro case rather than at the top like the AirPods case. It also appears to come with a USB-A to USB-C cable for charging purposes.


Since Apple launched the AirPods in 2016, almost all major tech companies have come out with their own wire-free earbuds, but most have unique designs and don’t look close to identical to the super popular AirPods.

Tag: HTC

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