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AirPods Max 2 might feature touch controls instead of the Digital Crown

Airpods Max Side
Airpods Max Side (Image credit: Christine Romero-Chan / iMore)

What you need to know

  • A new patent from Apple points to potential new features for AirPods Max.
  • The patent shows that Apple is experimenting with bringing touch controls to its over-the-ear headphones.
  • AirPods Max are currently controlled with the Digital Crown.

Apple could experiment with a different way to control the second generation of AirPods Max.

As reported by Patently Apple, Apple has filed a new patent that shows it is experimenting with bringing touch controls to its AirPods Max wireless headphones. The patent shows off touch controls existing on the earcup for each side of the headphones.

Apple's summary notes that an electronic device includes: at least a first touch-sensitive surface; one or more processors; and memory storing one or more programs configured to be executed by the one or more processors, the one or more programs including instructions for: detecting, at the at least a first touch-sensitive surface, a first gesture, including detecting an orientation of the first gesture with respect to the touch-sensitive surface; and in response to detecting the first gesture: in accordance with a determination that the electronic device is in a first device orientation and that the orientation of the first gesture corresponds to a first predetermined orientation, performing a first action; and in accordance with a determination that the electronic device is in a second device orientation, different than the first device orientation and that the orientation of the first gesture corresponds to the first predetermined orientation, performing a second action, different than the first action.

Apple currently pulled the Digital Crown from the Apple Watch and brought it to the AirPods Max in order to control volume as well skipping forward or backward as well as play and pause. It was a pretty ingenious idea and has worked out really well.

While bringing touch controls to the AirPods Max could also be useful if done correctly, it would hopefully come as an addition to the Digital Crown as opposed to replacing it completely.

Joe Wituschek
Joe Wituschek

Joe Wituschek is a Contributor at iMore. With over ten years in the technology industry, one of them being at Apple, Joe now covers the company for the website. In addition to covering breaking news, Joe also writes editorials and reviews for a range of products. He fell in love with Apple products when he got an iPod nano for Christmas almost twenty years ago. Despite being considered a "heavy" user, he has always preferred the consumer-focused products like the MacBook Air, iPad mini, and iPhone 13 mini. He will fight to the death to keep a mini iPhone in the lineup. In his free time, Joe enjoys video games, movies, photography, running, and basically everything outdoors.

2 Comments
  • Touch controls on headphones are usually spotty at best. I have AirPods Max and much prefer controlling them with physical buttons / dials as opposed to trying to tap and swipe like with the Sony XM3 & XM4.
  • Another vote for keeping the crown. It's easy to locate, and works well every time.