Apple is Developing Siri-Integrated Modular Headphones: Report
Apple is working on modular headphones integrated with Siri, according to a Bloomberg report. The company started developing the headphones two years ago before delays pushed them back to this year.
The headphones are made up of metal arms holding ear cups, as is standard. What’s different is that the padding and inside of the cups are replaceable. According to the report, the magnets hold the parts in place, and they can be switched out to adjust their fit or when they start to wear out. The idea seems to be to make them more comfortable for more people while also reducing the need to repurchase them when the pads wear out. It’s a logical adjustment since even the best pads will wear away more quickly than the electronics inside. Two versions of the headphones are in the works, one using leather and one using fabric that is better for workouts, much like the Apple Watch and its modular wristbands.
Those electronics include noise-canceling technology and the Siri voice assistant. The noise cancellation tech is likely similar to that of the AirPods Pro that Apple came out with last year, adjusted for the more comprehensive ear coverage of the headphones. The new headphones have reached the prototype stage, although there is no release date or official details. It’s also not clear if the headphones will be part of the Beats line of high-end headphones that Apple purchased a few years ago from the musical artist and entrepreneur Dr. Dre.
Apple Device Growth and Delay
The headphones are one of a few rumored devices that Apple is working on at the moment. While the headphones are a higher-end design, the company is supposedly developing a less expensive version of its HomePod smart speaker to compete with Amazon and Google. Apple is also working on an entry-level version of the $250 AirPods Pro, called the AirPods Pro Lite. The AirPods Pro debuted in October, but the current standard AirPods debuted a year ago, which makes the AirPods Pro Lite more likely to be a replacement for them.
All of the rumors may be premature, however. The AirPods Pro Lite was originally going to be produced this spring, but the novel coronavirus outbreak may have delayed the manufacturing schedule. The ongoing viral pandemic is slowing most electronics manufacturing in China. Apple may be focusing more on the AirPods Pro rather than new devices after starting to look at using factories in Vietnam to build the earbuds last year. The two Vietnamese factories are owned by some of Apple’s Chinese contract manufacturers. The shorter component list and relatively uncomplicated construction makes moving AirPods Pro manufacturing easier than other Apple products. If Apple is going to hit its goal of producing four million AirPods Pro a month, new high-end headphones may not be a priority, at least until the supply chain is closer to full-scale operations again.