APPLE could soon release its first pair of over-ear headphones – with "smart sensing" technology.
These so-called AirPods Studio are expected to offer wireless connectivity, noise-cancellation and a head-tracking system.
Apple's wireless AirPods earbuds have seen huge success in the past few years.
And although Apple owns Beats, the fruity firm has never released its own pair of over-ear headphones.
That could soon change, at least according to a new report from Apple watchers at 9to5Mac.
The respected tech site says that AirPods Studio are just around the corner, and could be the smartest headphones on the market.
Like regular AirPods, the AirPods Studio are expected to pause audio playback when they're removed.
This works by using sensors to detect when the headphones are on your head or neck.
But that's not all: the AirPods Studio are also said to be able to tell which cup is on the left or right ear.
This means there would be no right or wrong direction to wear the AirPods Studio, because the correct audio channel could be routed to the appropriate ear automatically.
That's in contrast to conventional headphones, which typically have fixed "left" and "right" ears.
For last year's Apple AirPods Pro, Apple introduced noise-cancellation technology.
This monitors ambient sound, and then floods the wearer's ear with "anti-noise" that cancels out the din around you.
Apple is expected to build similar active noise-cancellation tech into the AirPods Studio.
It's also likely that these headphones would feature Siri integration.
Why is Siri called Siri?
Here's the origin story of Apple's AI assistant…
- Although the virtual Siri assistant lives on every iPhone, it wasn't actually created by Apple.
- It was actually a spin-off project from the SRI International Artificial Intelligence Center.
- The tech was eventually bought up by Apple for the iPhone, but Apple had no say over the name.
- No one has ever revealed who came up with Siri, but we do know why it was chosen.
- Siri co-creator Adam Cheyer said the name Siri was picked because it's "easy to remember, short to type, comfortable to pronounce, and a not-too-common human name".
- Writing in Forbes, he said: "Once Siri became the leading candidate, everyone on the team had their own favourite explanation of the meaning.
- "Dag Kittlaus, our Norwegian-American CEO, once considered using Siri as the name of his child and liked the Norse meaning 'beautiful woman who leads you to victory'.
- "For me, Siri, which means 'secret' in Swahili, was a tip of the hat to our pre-named days when we began as stealth-company.com.
- "I also liked the fact that it was the reverse of Iris, a software system I helped build as part of the CALO project which Siri was spun out of.
- "Some liked the resemblance to SRI, which was the research institute that ran the CALO project."
- In any case, no one at the team expected Apple to actually keep the name – but Siri lived on.
According to the report, Apple is aiming these headphones at more professional users.
For instance, connected the Studio to an iOS or Mac device would unlock custom equaliser settings.
A separate report by Bloomberg suggests that there will be at least two variants of the headphones, including a leather version, and one with lighter materials for fitness.
The report also claims that Apple is looking at a modular design that will make it easy to swap out magnetic ear pads – making them customisable.
There's no hard price tag yet, as the product remains officially unannounced. But latest rumours suggest we can expect a price of around $349/£349.
Sadly, Apple hasn't revealed any information about such a gadget – so take all rumours and leaks with due caution for now.
In other news, Apple is also rumoured to be preparing a pair of AirPods Lite.
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Would you be tempted by a pair of Apple AirPods Studio? Let us know in the comments!
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