Apple may go all-in with audio

“Apple plans to expand its audio product line next year with new AirPods, HomePods and possibly studio-quality over-the-ear headphones,” John P. Mello Jr. writes for TechNewsWorld. “The new generation of AirPods will feature noise cancellation, be water resistant, and have greater range, Bloomberg reported Monday, citing people familiar with the developments.”

“There is significant interest in noise cancellation functionality, noted Tim Bajarin, president of Creative Strategies,” Mello Jr. writes. “‘A premium version of AirPods that includes that feature would be valuable to users,’ Bajarin told TechNewsWorld… Apple also has been considering the addition of biometric sensors to the pods as a way of expanding its health-related hardware beyond the Apple Watch, Bloomberg reported. The new AirPods are expected to cost more than the current $159 model, which reportedly will be refreshed later this year with a new chip and hands-free Siri activation.”

“Apple’s planned introduction of new audio products next year reflects an expanded role for audio in the company’s future,” Mello Jr. writes. “‘It reinforces Apple’s commitment to a broader strategy in which audio plays a more important role in their hardware and software ecosystems,’ Creative Strategies’ Bajarin said.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take:

They will use Apple branding and be a higher-end alternative to the company’s Beats line.Mark Gurman, Bloomberg, June 25, 2018

It’s very telling that Apple seems to plan on reserving the Apple brand for their higher-end audio products (see also: HomePod). Beats’ well-deserved poor reputation for sound quality must be tough to overcome.

Apple to launch high-end AirPods, over-ear headphones in 2019 – June 25, 2018


      1. Never tried Ankers specifically — really don’t know what audio expertise they have — but Bluetooth imho is an audio let down. Sure, Apple and others want to charge huge premiums to get people to buy wireless stuff but BT stuff never works as well as a wired connection. Well designed wired headphones just work.

        For the foreseeable future, the best fit, performance, and value from any audio device — in home or mobile — will be from a wired connection. And yes that includes homepods with a WiFi connection. Too bad Apple wasn’t smart enough to provide accessory audio inputs and outputs to its Siri-infected dumb speaker (obviously just an AM subscriber interface) with limited audio range and zero interoperability with any legacy audio equipment including no ability to make a wired connection to Apple’s antique iPod Touch, last updated in 2015 and still missing the disc space that the iPod Classics offered. Thanks for nothing Apple.

    1. They extract an additional 25% cost from the buyer’s wallet.

      Okay, to be fair, some people do not like a firm seal around their ears. If you like relatively more open speakers and frequent environments that have consistent predictable background noise, then noise cancelling technology can help cut down on stuff like transportation noise, crowd noise, or airplane engines while still allowing one to hear their neighbor fairly well through a vented headphone design. Of course some noise cancelling headphones are offered with a sealed design, but in my opinion a well sealed design that cuts out all ambient noise eliminates most of the need for noise cancelling. Not recommended when jogging or riding a bike etc. though.

      I don’t know what Apple’s grand plan is, but they don’t seem to have a clear logic in offering different ear fits or a logical range of audio equipment. Seems like Apple is just chasing fads or reproducing what other companies issue first, but at a higher price. I wish Apple would leave audio to the companies that do it best and update their own stale hardware across the board.

  1. While the haters above spew ignorance based nonsense, I disagree with the title that this represents going all in on audio. If Apple were going “all-in” on audio, they would:
    1) Make a wireless subwoofer that integrates/synchronizes with home pods.
    2) Enable Alexa and Google assistant on their home pods. This is technically very easy to do and would not detract from the current experience with Siri in any way.
    3) Build a speaker solution that provides a simple, integrated, dolby atmos experience. This could be a combination of 4-5 HomePods that link together, so theoretically they just could implement this with software. The trouble with this is that 4-5 HomePods in 1 room is overkill. They need to produce a cheaper speaker or just lower the price.
    4) In the headset space, The AirPods should get much upgraded acoustic sealing like with in-ear type earbuds (enabling better audio quality). Then, since the AirPods have a built in mic, you can selectively pipe in outside sound based on easy settings. Ask Siri to isolate all incoming sounds, only bring in voices, any non-droning noises, or all background noise. Second priority should be to increase battery life. Ideally, AirPods should be able to last all day just like the phone and watch.
    5) An Apple branded over-ear headset would probably be a pretty niche product and isn’t worth the investment IMO. Just make it easy for 3rd parties to adopt/license/Include the T1/T2 chipsets for easy and reliable connectivity.

    1. Agreed. Apple should definitely consider a 5.1/7.2 surround sound option using the HomePod tech, but providing a full-range expandable audio experience.

      I.e. you could start with a 2.1 system and gradually expand it till you have the full 7.2 system. Wireless/non-Wireless options would be nice.

  2. AirPods are incredible and any improvement would be icing on the already very tasty cake. Smaller, satellite HomePods or a Beats labeled smaller speaker that integrated Siri would be nice, and an over the ear headset that integrated Apple Music and Siri without requiring another device, and that could use one’s phone account (Like the Apple Watch) as well as WiFi would be killer.

  3. I don’t care how “high-end”, or how far they cancel noise, Apple, at the least, give us a basic 5 band EQ in iOS. I couldn’t care less about the multitude of EQ presets in settings. I like to sculpt my sound. Although I subscribe to both, my preference is always Spotify over Apple Music because of its 5 band EQ.

  4. Apple, the company that delivers content via the iTunes brand, that revolutionized digital audio purchasing, that has sold billions of tracks online… is JUST now going all-in with audio. Maybe they meant to say EVEN MORE ALLer INer. 🙂

    1. Like so much of the useless expressions commonly bandied about, “all in” has no true meaning.

      If Apple truly cared about offering a complete audio portfolio of quality, it would commercialize its ALAC technology, distributing uncompressed music as a premium tier. It could even buy Tidal for just a few billion since Cook likes to do that kind of deal.

      If Apple truly cared about music management and player software, it would split up iTunes into separate titles, each excellent and focused on providing the user a clean, intuitive, reliable experience for the focused purpose one wants.

      If Apple truly cared about music hardware, it would gladly enter into blind comparison tests with leading audio companies to show how good or bad its audio actually is. Apple would have legacy audio connections on all its products, and it would have modern Family of Airport (especially Airport Express) units to quickly enable Airplay II to be a fundamental platform onto which all new home audio systems are based.

      If Apple wanted to be relevant in the audio industry, it wouldn’t have cancelled its live music festivals, it would have started its own label to publish up and coming musicians with a platform that would rival YouTube.

      If Apple wanted to support artists and writers, it would pay them more for streaming their music.

      If Apple wanted to maintain its formerly dominant presence in the computers used in the audio industry, it would not be hacking features off its Macs, and it would keep them up to date.

      It is beyond belief how a company with so many employees and so much capital cannot connect the dots. It’s like they are so insulated in their ivory tower that they don’t even take the time to observe the ways in which real people make and consume audio. Apple’s one and only thought is the Microsoftian attempt at forcing its platform “Windows Everywhere” onto the world, except for Apple its “iCloud subscriptions everywhere”. iOS is just the walls corralling the sheep into iCloud dependence. The thing is, it’s a mess, and it leads to a rather poor quality audio experience.

      Apple is so splintered and inconsistent, it’s not a player in anything but iOS app distribution. It hasn’t fostered trust in any other department.

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