After announcing new iPads and iMacs earlier this week, Apple has released details about its next-generation AirPods. The new wireless earbuds, which are available for preorder today starting at $159, come with an updated, Apple-designed chip, more battery life, and “Hey Siri” voice-command support. Apple also debuted a new wireless charging case for AirPods that can be charged with any Qi wireless charger.
We didn’t expect Apple to radically redesign AirPods this time around, so the new AirPods look nearly identical to the previous model. Inside, however, is a new H1 chip that Apple designed specifically for headphones. The company claims the new chip will provide up to 50 percent more talk time than previous models, faster connect times when switching between iPhone, iPad, and other Apple host devices, and general performance improvements.
The new H1 chip also lets AirPods listen for the “Hey Siri” voice command. Previously, users had to touch the side of one AirPod before speaking a command to Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant. Now, users can just say the waking command before asking Siri to do things like adjust the volume, play a different song, and more.
The new AirPods will come with a standard charging case, or customers can opt to buy them with the new wireless charging case. Similar to the buds themselves, the wireless charging case looks identical to the previous AirPod charging case, but it has an LED indicator to show its charge level. The new case is Qi-compliant, so it will work with most wireless charging pads available today. Both the regular and wireless charging cases hold enough juice to power AirPods for more than 24 hours.
Everything announced today about the new AirPods has been anticipated for months now, but some rumored features, like water-resistance, did not make it into the newest earbuds.
All of these new product announcements come the week before Apple’s event scheduled for March 25. Instead of bogging down the spring event with product announcements, Apple will focus solely on the new services it will roll out this year, which include a TV streaming service as well as a news subscription service.
The new AirPods with the new wireless charging case cost $199 while AirPods with the standard case cost $159. Users can buy the wireless charging case separately for $79, allowing those with previous AirPod models to charge them wirelessly without buying an all-new set of buds.