AirPods might be getting a display, but do we really need another Apple product with a screen?

AirPods Pro 1 and 2 side by side
(Image credit: iMore)

AirPods with a screen is as mythical as the Loch Ness monster at this point — we’ve been hearing rumors about what Apple could add to the charging case for years. And now a new patent suggests Apple is still working on the concept, looking at the potential of a display to highlight visual playback information.

The patent titled, “Devices, methods, and graphical user interfaces for interactions with a headphone case,” shows an earbuds charging case with a display that shows musical audio output including a pause button, volume, rewind, and fast forward. The display would also show when a digital assistant, like Siri, is activated as well as provide other information like when the earbuds are connected to TV audio.

While the concept of an AirPods case with a screen sounds pretty cool, it got me thinking about the addition of a display and whether or not we even need another way to interact with our music controls on Apple devices.

It can’t affect battery life, at all

AirPods case with display

(Image credit: Apple)

The first issue that comes to mind is battery life. Whether or not a display on the AirPods charging case adds functionality is meaningless if the prospect of a screen means you need to charge your AirPods more often. Airpods being your trusty travel companion, the battery life is one of, if not the most important, factor, allowing you to listen to music for hours on end and then get a top-up from the charging case. Obviously, we’d expect Apple to think about this before putting an AirPods case with a screen out there, but if it hinders battery at all, then it already feels less feature-rich than a case without a screen.

AirPods Pro 2 |$249$189 at Amazon

AirPods Pro 2 | $249 $189 at Amazon

Who needs a screen on their AirPods case anyway? The AirPods Pro 2 are the best earbuds money can buy and they are currently $60 off at Amazon.

We have screens everywhere

AirPods Pro 2

(Image credit: Mike Sawh)

Battery life aside, the thought of another display to change music controls is actually a little head-scratching. With the best iPhones in most people’s pockets or the best Apple Watches on their wrists, the need for another way to interact with your music feels unnecessary. If you’re out and about with AirPods you have to have your smartphone or Apple Watch nearby, so whether or not you’re digging into your pocket for an iPhone or a charging case makes no inherent difference to the user experience other than adding another screen to your life. If you’re out on a run, you probably own an Apple Watch or have your iPhone strapped to your arm, in which case finding more space for a case to quickly interact with your music playback seems a bit wild.

I think, the idea seems cool and futuristic but it makes me question why Apple would add another part to a simple charging case that could open up the door for more hardware faults and added weight. Personally, the only future I see for a product like this is if Apple includes internal storage and the AirPods turn into a modernized version of an iPod with on-device playback for when you don’t have access to your smartphone or Watch.

I may be completely wrong, and an AirPods case with a small screen to show battery life and track names could turn into Apple’s most popular product. But until proven otherwise, I’ll happily stick to my AirPods Pro 2.

More from iMore

John-Anthony Disotto
How To Editor

John-Anthony Disotto is the How To Editor of iMore, ensuring you can get the most from your Apple products and helping fix things when your technology isn’t behaving itself. Living in Scotland, where he worked for Apple as a technician focused on iOS and iPhone repairs at the Genius Bar, John-Anthony has used the Apple ecosystem for over a decade and prides himself in his ability to complete his Apple Watch activity rings. John-Anthony has previously worked in editorial for collectable TCG websites and graduated from The University of Strathclyde where he won the Scottish Student Journalism Award for Website of the Year as Editor-in-Chief of his university paper. He is also an avid film geek, having previously written film reviews and received the Edinburgh International Film Festival Student Critics award in 2019.  John-Anthony also loves to tinker with other non-Apple technology and enjoys playing around with game emulation and Linux on his Steam Deck.

In his spare time, John-Anthony can be found watching any sport under the sun from football to darts, taking the term “Lego house” far too literally as he runs out of space to display any more plastic bricks, or chilling on the couch with his French Bulldog, Kermit. 

  • Annie_M
    I won't know if I need it until after (and if) it's released. Then I'll make a decision based on what my perceptions and impressions are! :D