Apple is planning its own version of wireless, over-ear headphones.
The California-based company is already developing the new ‘high-end’ audio accessory, which could be available by the second half of this year, insiders claim.
The decision follows the unprecedented success of their AirPods, which has become one of the firm’s most successful products.
It also comes just five years after they acquired Dr.Dre’s Beats Electronics for $3billion (£2.27billion) in 2014.
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The latest claim was made in a recent report about Sonos speakers by Bloomberg.
Previously, they’d alleged that Apple was already in negotiations with manufacturer Tymphany to produce the headphones, although this is as-yet unconfirmed.
They also suggested that the original release date was 2018, but this was delayed due to ‘development setbacks’.
MailOnline have contacted Apple for comment, but are yet to receive a response.
If confirmed, it will mean Apple have two huge audio releases, this year, including a new version of the AirPods which will also monitor your health.
According to Digitimes, ‘Apple is set to release AirPods 2 sometime in the first half of 2019’.
Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that Apple will release an ‘upgraded model with wireless charging support’ in the first quarter of 2019.
Apple had been expected to launch an upgraded case giving the headphones wireless charging capabilities alongside its AirPower charging mat last year.
However, both products failed to materialise.
THE WIRELESS HEADPHONE WAR
Apple’s AirPod wireless headphones have been one of the firm’s most successful products – and others have taken notice.
Both Google and Amazon are set to launch similar headphones next year, it has been claimed.
Many were taken by surprise by the huge success of the $159 Airpods – and they are about to spark a headphone war, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
‘The new wireless earbuds with discrete designs to carry health monitoring functions are expected to receive enthusiastic market responses,’ Digitimes said.
‘Other brand vendors have all planned to launch wireless headsets in the year, with market competition seen to heat up soon.’
Late last year, analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said that Apple will release an ‘upgraded model with wireless charging support’ in the first quarter of 2019, according to 9to5mac.
Kuo also said an all-new design AirPods is currently on track to launch in early 2020.
He forecasts dramatic unit growth for AirPods with units rising from 16 million units in 2017 to over 100 million by 2021.
The well respected analyst calls them Apple’s most popular accessory ever, and said existing iPhone users are more likely to buy AirPods than upgrade their phone itself.
The new AirPods are also expected to have upgrades to their Bluetooth capabilities.
Apple originally said it will sell the AirPods wireless charging case as a separate add-on accessory for existing AirPods owners, and release a minor revision to the whole product at the same time — which includes the wireless charging case.
Kuo does not go into detail about what the ‘all-new design’ 2020 AirPods will feature.
Previous rumours have suggested features like sweat resistance, Hey Siri integration and noise cancelling.
HOW WOULD AIRPOWER WORK?
AirPower is based on the Qi charging standard, which powers wireless chargers for Android and iOS smartphones alike.
However, Apple claimed to have added a number of software features to improve the wireless charging experience when used with its iPhone and Watch products.
Rumours of the death of the AirPower charger may have been greatly exaggerated according to owners of the new iPhone XS. It had been suggested Apple had abandoned plans for its wireless mat but packaging material suggests this is not the case (pictured)
AirPower is expected to include a custom Apple chip that runs a stripped-down version of the iOS operating system to conduct on-device power management and pairing with devices that are placed on the charging mat.
It also raises hopes Apple’s much delayed AirPower wireless charging mat may be released next year.
It had been suggested Apple had abandoned the gadget, after the firm failed to mention it at all during the unveiling of its latest range of handsets last month.
Apple also scrubbed a number of prominent references to the device from its online retail store during the iPhone XS launch event.
Twitter user Gavin Stevens shared an image from the ‘Getting Started Guide’ that comes with the iPhone XS.
It reads: ‘Place iPhone with screen facing up on AirPower or a Qi-certified wireless charger.
‘You can also use the Lightning connector to charge iPhone and connect accessories.’
This suggests that Apple is still actively working on the device.
However, not everyone is convinced.
Eagle-eyed recipients have spotted references to the wireless charging mat inside the packaging for the iPhone XS and iPhone XS Max
‘What I’ve heard, third-hand but from multiple little birdies, is that AirPower well and truly f*****,’ wrote John Gruber on his Daring Fireball blog last week.
‘Something about the multi-coil design getting too hot — way too hot.
‘There are engineers who looked at AirPower’s design and said it could never work, thermally, and now those same engineers have that ‘told you so’ smug look on their faces.’
AirPower was originally announced during the September 2017 launch event for the iPhone X in Cupertino.
It promised to provide wireless charging for future handsets, Apple Watch and AirPods.
Unlike conventional QI wireless chargers, which can power one device at a time, the AirPower is designed to power all three at once.
Apple hasn’t discussed AirPower publicly since it was first announced last September. At the time, Apple said it expected the device to be available for purchase in 2018
At the time of the iPhone X launch last year, the company said it expected the device to be available for purchase in 2018, but it didn’t specify a date.
Despite the latest range of iPhone Xs unveiled being equipped with wireless charging capabilities, the Californian firm remained tight-lipped about its own charging solution.
Apple also removed all prominent references from its online retail store, bar a trademark for the name buried in the legal section of its site.
It appeared that anyone who buys the latest Apple hardware would have to purchase a third-party solution that is compatible with the Qi standard of wireless charging.
Since then, AirPower hasn’t been publicly discussed by Apple and the release date has been quietly dropped from the official website amid a flurry of rumours the company is struggling with the wireless technology.
In a rare move for Apple, it has suggested iPhone customers buy charging hubs from Mophie, Belkin and Logitech – which are also listed on its online retail store.
Speaking on-stage during the 2017 iPhone event, Apple Senior Vice President of Worldwide Marketing Phil Schiller said: ‘We hope people love it, and that it encourages others to create more advanced solutions based on technology like this.
‘We’re going to be working with the Qi standards team to incorporate these benefits into the future of the standards to make wireless charging better for everyone. So look for the AirPower charger next year.’
One of the biggest issues believed to be causing the delays with Apple AirPower is the mechanism to charge three separate devices, including an iPhone, Apple Watch and wireless AirPods headphones, simultaneously on the same surface.
The amount of power required to charge all of the devices is causing some issues with overheating, according to rumours from inside Apple.
A multi-device charging mechanism likely requires differently sized charging components for the three types of devices, which would all overlap across the mat — something that could generate dangerous levels of heat.
Apple also hoped to allow people to place their device anywhere on the AirPower pad to charge, however, this purportedly requires incredibly complex circuitry.
Most wireless chargers highlight a designated area where the phone needs to be placed in order to draw power.
With no sight of the device yet, many are noting that it highlights Apple’s growing supply chain woes.
Apple faced similar issues with the HomePod smart speaker, which was released this year, about six months after the device was first announced.
But many are calling Apple’s slow release of AirPower out of character for the company.
‘Hopefully, Apple learns a lesson to only announce products that are for sure shipping soon or immediately after announcing,’ Ben Bajarin, analyst at Creative Strategies, told Bloomberg in June.
HOW DOES WIRELESS CHARGING WORK?
Wireless charging as a concept has been around since Nikola Tesla, a Croatian inventor, first suggested in the 19th century that you could transfer power between two objects via an electromagnetic field.
The charging pad contains a loop of coiled wires around a bar magnet, known as an inductor.
When an electric current passes from the mains through the coiled wire, it creates an electromagnetic field around the magnet.
This can then be used to transfer a voltage – or charge – to the smartphone.
Apple is rumoured to working on a charging system that will operate at 7.5 watts.
That means that it won’t offer faster charging speeds than conventional chargers, which offer 15 watts as standard.