Report: Apple's U1 chip coming to AirPods Studio, AirTags to do more than track

Airpods Studio Render
Airpods Studio Render (Image credit: Jon Prosser)

What you need to know

  • Apple is rumored to be working on the AirPods Studio over-ear headphones.
  • Leaker @L0vetodream claims they will include the U1 ultra-wideband chip.
  • They also say the U1-equipped AirTags will do more than track things, too.

Apple's unannounced but heavily rumored AirPods Studio headphones will include the U1 ultra-wideband chip (UWB), according to anonymous Twitter leaker @L0vetodream.

In a simple tweet yesterday, the leaker said that the U1 chip will be part of the new headphones but he didn't immediately go into details.

He did later tweet in Chinese, saying that the U1 chip will likely be used to allow the headset to recognize its orientation. We've long heard claims that AirPods Studio won't have a traditional left and right ear cup, allowing them to be worn in either orientation with software doing the rest. The U1 chip could make that happen.

Apple's U1 UWB chip is what's thought to power the upcoming AIrTags trackers. It's also part of iPhone 11 and other Apple devices, too.

UWB is a short range radio technology, similar to Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. However, it uses a much wider frequency spectrum compared to other technologies, allowing it to utilize 500MHz- channels which gives a huge boost to bandwidth, speed and latency capabilities. UWB can also measure how long it takes signals to transfer between transmitters to accurately measure distance and location.

It's that ability to measure location and distance that makes UWB so useful for things like trackers, but L0vetodream also believes that AirTags will have a more important role to play – they'll be the bridges that connect all other UWB devices together, according to a translated tweet.

The tag is a node that interconnects everything. The node acts as a bridge to connect various devices. U1 is the most important part of the realization of this bridge. The privacy function of OS 14 is created to make the tag better used in a private environment. A good solution to the problem of privacy violations involved in use.

AirTags are likely to be announced alongside iPhone 12 and iPhone 12 Pro next month, with some suggesting AirPods Studio could follow suit.

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.