Apple Working on High-End Airpods, Over-the-Ear Headphones

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Those same sources added that Apple is putting together AirPods with water resistance (mainly against rain or sweat, not for swimming or anything like that) and noise-cancellation.

Slated for 2019, the earbuds will likely cost more than the existing $159 pair, and that could push Apple to segment the product line like it does with iPhones, one of the people said. Apple is said to be looking into including a heart-rate monitor and other biometric sensors with future AirPods as well.

These headphones are created to compete against models from Bose and Sennheiser, according to the report. Naturally, they will be using Apple's branding and because of the company facing numerous challenges, these audio accessories are not going to be released this year. However, the 2018 AirPods that will be released later this year will come with a new chip and support for hands-free Siri activation, thus laying the foundations for Apple to incorporate newer features on AirPods coming in 2019. That will most likely mean transitioning the production work for the upcoming models away from Inventec, which built the first HomePod and majority of the first-gen AirPods units.

A new version of the HomePod speaker is also under development, sources say.

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Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.

With the HomePod, Apple proved that it can definitely make audio products that deliver outstanding sound quality. The headphones are also expected to carry the Apple branding, though there's no official name for the product yet since it remains unconfirmed. An in-house audio-product team is run by Gary Geaves, formerly an engineer from B&W Group Ltd., a maker of speaker systems and headphones.

Reports of new Apple audio gear have circulated for a few months now.

Apple debuted its wireless earbuds in December 2016. What direction Apple will take with the HomePod 2 is yet to be determined. Apple might be working with Tymphany for the new over-the-ear headphones. It intends to expand its partnership with Foxconn and reduce reliance on its smaller vendors like Inventec. An Inventec spokeswoman said the company "will try its best to secure new orders".

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