What's Next for Apple's AirPods Pro?

Apple is expected to release "AirPods Pro 2" sometime later this year...and they could be drastically different.

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Tucker Bowe

Apple looks set to announce new-and-improved versions of its high-end wireless earbuds, the AirPods Pro, sometime later this year. Since their release in 2019, the AirPods Pro have been some of the best sounding and best noise-canceling wireless earbuds iPhone owners could buy. So, how is Apple going to make the next generation models — let's call them the "AirPods Pro 2" — even better?

The AirPods Pro 2 are expected to be announced this fall

The latest rumors indicate that Apple will be announcing its next generation AirPods Pro this fall (probably September) alongside the next-generation AirPods Max, the latter of which isn't expected to get a big design overhaul but rather just more color options.

AirPods Pro 2 could support lossless audio

Apple rolled out lossless audio tracks to Apple Music last year, but none of its AirPods — save for the AirPods Max if it had a wired connection — actually supported it. The reason was that lossless tracks can't be streamed over Bluetooth (save for some codecs, like Sony's LDAC), which is how all of Apple's wireless headphones and earbuds work. (Most headphones and speakers require a hardwire or Wi-Fi connection to play higher bitrate tracks.) But according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo (via 9to5Mac), Apple has reportedly found a way round this and that the AirPods Pro 2 are expected to being able to support Apple's lossless codec (ALAC) and take full advantage of its higher-quality tracks.

The AirPods Pro 2 case might be harder to lose

Apple is expected to bring over a feature from its iPhone and Apple Watch lines that's going to make the AirPods Pro 2 easier to find if they're nearby but misplaced. According to Kuo, the charging case of the AirPods Pro 2 is going to be able to emit a "pinging" sound if lost, which you'll be able to initiate via the Find My app; it's the same process as you can currently use to find your misplaced Apple Watch. While previous AirPods all work with Find My, none have had this self-emitting sound feature.

AirPods Pro 2 might drop the stems

Maybe the biggest shake-up with the AirPods Pro 2 is that they are rumored to have a traditional earbud design — so, no stems. Apple has shortened the stems with new AirPod model — the AirPods Pro and AirPods 3 both have shorted stems than the original AirPods — and, according to Kuo, the AirPods Pro 2 could have an even more rounded design that's similar to Samsung's or Google's latest wireless earbuds.

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