Apple reportedly has a pretty big redesign geared up for its AirPods 3 headphones coming this year. The third-generation will replace Apple's current AirPods, which are some of the best true wireless earbuds available right now.
AirPod Pro-style design
This just might be the year of Apple's "Pro" designs trickling down to the mainstream, first with the iPad, then with the AirPods. While the first- and second-generation AirPods look like wireless versions of Apple's wired EarPod earphones, the third-generation AirPods are said to take after the Pro variant.
The AirPods Pro are closer to more traditional earbuds rather than the earphone style of the current standard AirPods. They feature silicon tips that go into your ear, offer better stability and noise isolation, on top of the active noise cancellation (ANC) that's also built-in.
The most recent rumor from Bloomberg's Mark Gurman says that Apple will update its AirPods to reflect the design of the AirPods Pro, with smaller stems and replaceable ear tips.
Active noise cancellation
So, if the AirPods 3 are getting an AirPods Pro-style redesign, are they also get AirPods Pro-style ANC? According to recent rumors, no, ANC will remain AirPods Pro-only for now.
It's easy to see why. ANC is still often used as a premium feature in many headphones, and if Apple plans on keeping the AirPods Pro around, it's likely that the company will keep that feature for the higher-end models.
Health and safety features
Rumors indicate that Apple is working on AirPods with light sensors that read biometric data from within your ear. These sensors would reportedly allow Apple to gather data on the wearer's blood oxygen level.
But will these sensors appear in the next-generation AirPods? It's hard to say. The rumors earlier this year indicated that these models of AirPods were one to two years away, which, while fitting within a supposed launch window of Fall 2021, seems a little soon for the standard AirPods line.
A recent patent points to another new feature that might be coming to AirPods: automatic volume adjustment. If Apple implements the technology in this patent, AirPods would be able to change their volume based on potential hazards around you automatically. On AirPods with audio transparency, this would also likely meaning turning that feature on.
Given that the patent was just granted, it's likely to be a little while before we see this feature (if we ever do), but it's something to watch out for with new AirPods models.
Apple did announce a few handy software improvements within iOS 15 and beyond that AirPods 3 users will benefit from. That includes linking to your Apple ID as part of the Find My network, Conversation Boost to help block out ambient noise when you're talking to someone and Announce Notifications.
There's not a lot of information out there yet about the potential price of AirPods 3. That could be because nobody knows or has heard anything, or it could be because Apple is keeping the starting price at the same $159 that AirPods have had from the beginning.
Assuming Apple keeps its current AirPods pricing plan, then we're likely also to see another price point for AirPods 3: $199. This would be the price of AirPods with a wireless charging case, assuming Apple doesn't just make wireless charging a standard part of this new generation of AirPods.
It is rumored Apple will release new AirPods in the Fall of 2021, recently it was rumored they would go on sale at the end of September, and could possibly be announced alongside iPhone 13.