Apple AirPods Studio Headphones May Appear at WWDC in June
Apple will debut new over-ear headphones called AirPods Studio this year with enhanced sensors and noise-canceling tech, possibly making their first appearance at WWDC. The AirPods Studio headphones are one of a few new hearables Apple is allegedly working on for the coming year, albeit with some potential delays due to the current COVID-19 health crisis.
There aren’t any images yet of the AirPods Studio headphones, but they are expected to include a way to toggle between allowing in some outside sounds and blocking out all outside noise. The headphones will have customizable ear pads so people with different fits for different activities. They are also supposed to have sensors able to determine when they are being worn, somewhat similar to the ear detection of standard AirPods, where they will automatically pause when placed around your neck. They will also include touch controls and support for the Siri voice assistant, much like Apple’s other hearables.
The AirPods Studio has no release date but could show up as soon as this year’s (online-only) WWDC on June 22 and cost $350, according to regular Apple news leak source Jon Prosser. The design and price of the AirPods Studio raises some questions about how they will fit with the Beats headphones in Apple’s ecosystem. Apple may view them as for a different potential customer base, but this could mark a shift away from Beats, which Apple acquired for $3 billion in 2014.
WWDC may also be where Apple shows off other new hearables. Apple is working on an entry-level version of the AirPods Pro, rumored to be called the AirPods Pro Lite. The AirPods Pro only debuted in October, but the current standard AirPods came out over a year ago, placing the AirPods Pro Lite in line to replace them. Apple is also supposedly working on a less expensive version of its HomePod smart speaker to compete with Amazon and Google that is to be revealed at WWDC.
Whether any of these products will make it to market this year is somewhat unsure. The expected spring launch of the AirPods Pro Lite has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic playing havoc with manufacturing and shipping schedules. That’s true not just for Apple, but basically all electronics manufacturing carried out in China. Apple could have some advantage after starting to shift earbud manufacturing to factories in Vietnam owned by Apple Chinese contract manufacturers. The rapidly expanding wearables market, including hearables, could be a major motivation, however. Gartner estimated last year that consumers would spend $52 billion on wearable technology in 2020, a 27% jump from 2019. Though the pandemic has undoubtedly altered that forecast, the appetite for hearables, especially from Apple, is likely healthy enough to make the AirPods Studio a success, whenever they arrive.