Apple is always looking to innovate with the AirPods line, and this new patent seems to indicate the next destination for the AirPods. In a move that seems both interesting and potentially useless, Apple has filed a patent that is going to put a touch screen on the outside of the AirPods case, amongst other things. It sounds cool, but just how useful could it be?
The patent details some new control methods in the AirPods case. The main one is obviously the screen on the case, and it will be used for a couple of different things. It will act like a remote control for Apple Music, letting you skip, pause and change the volume from the case itself. It's a cool feature, but ultimately a strange one. After all, if you can pull out your AirPods to change track, surely you can do the same thing with your best iPhone?
The screen also looks to display other information as well, including the source of the audio playing on the AirPods. That could be a movie, a message, or a phone call. But again – it's all visible on your phone.
The other key control method is squeezing, and this sounds more useful than a small touch screen. Users will be able to change certain parameters by giving their AirPods case a quick squeeze, something that could be done within a pocket without having to look at the case and its new small screen. This, if anything, is the key innovation.
Apple says in the patent that it's to add function to a device that traditionally is only for charging the headphones. "The utility of the headphones can be enhanced, and user control over a user's wireless headphones can be improved, by configuring a headphone case with an interactive user interface." It's an interesting idea, but one that seems a little useless, even when Apple's reasoning is taken into account. No news on what AirPods the case would be on, so whether we'll see it on the AirPods 4 or the AirPods Pro 3 no one knows. Perhaps, when the new AirPods come out, we'll find out more about how these new control methods are going to work in the long run.
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As iMore's Senior Staff writer, Tammy uses her background in audio and Masters in screenwriting to pen engaging product reviews and informative buying guides. The resident audiophile (or audio weirdo), she's got an eye for detail and a love of top-quality sound. Apple is her bread and butter, with attention on HomeKit and Apple iPhone and Mac hardware. You won't find her far away from a keyboard even outside of working at iMore – in her spare time, she spends her free time writing feature-length and TV screenplays. Also known to enjoy driving digital cars around virtual circuits, to varying degrees of success. Just don't ask her about AirPods Max - you probably won't like her answer.