The next generation of AirPods is expected to launch with health tracking features, Apple Watch integration and responding to Siri
Expected to launch in the first half of 2019, Apple’s rumored AirPods 2 are expected to have health monitoring features, according to supply chain sources. This enables AirPods to compete in the wearables market. In 2018, Apple’s revenue from wearables grew by as much as 50 percent, according to DigiTimes.
As suppliers anticipate a growing wearables market in 2019, their predictions apparently match similar expectations described by noted Apple industry analyst, Ming-Chi Kuo back in December of last year, who described wireless charging support and an updated Bluetooth feature for the newer AirPods in early 2019. The two suppliers who provided the information, Taiwanese flexible PCB suppliers Zhen Ding Tech and Flexium Interconnect, provide components for the Apple Watch and AirPods currently. DigiTimes has been a mixed source of reputable information, often flooded with ‘insider’ tips from Asian suppliers of varying accuracy.
However, new AirPod listings were added recently to the Bluetooth Special Interest Group's regulatory database in November that support the Bluetooth 5.0 specification. Current AirPods are not water resistant and cannot handle excessive exposure or submersion in liquids. A future third-generation AirPod that is water resistant and possibly features a new design is expected in 2020.
Apple Watch Integration
The new AirPods are also expected to work well with the latest versions of Apple Watch, thus enabling smooth sharing of health data. Apple Watch made headlines last year with its new electrocardiogram functionality right from your wrist.
Hey Siri Functionality
A "Hey Siri" configuration tool discovered in Apple's latest iOS 12.2 beta by 9to5Mac's Guilherme Rambo, suggests that Apple’s newer AirPod model will be able to interact with Siri directly. The setup matches other “Hey Siri'“ prompts but mentions AirPods for the first time. Prior to this software iteration, the Siri configuration model was limited to the iPhone only. This new functionality offers great convenience as a user wearing AirPods can call upon Siri without having to pull out their handset. Also as this functionality is not available on current models, its presence suggests the arrival of a new model of AirPods in the near future.
Back in 2018, Bloomberg suggested that Apple was updating its wireless headphones to include a “Hey Siri” component. Last year’s December report by analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also predicted the use of a revised W-series chip in the next version of AirPods. This chip would able to power desired “Hey Siri” functionality.
HomePods Arrive in China and Hong Kong at Last
Earlier this month, Apple launched the HomePod in China and Hong Kong, after almost a year since the Siri-enabled speaker was released to market. The HomePod sells for roughly 2,799 yuan (about $413 in China and HK$2,799 (about $356) in Hong Kong, according to Apple's online stores. The HomePod is immediately available in both countries, with convenient one business day shipping. Apple promoted the audio speaker’s release with regional specifications for Siri to include popular favorites such as “Cantopop” and “Mandopop” to play specific radio stations in Apple Music and artists such as Corsak, Gong and Lu Xianghui.