Apple’s AirPods

Rumors are swirling that Apple will release wireless earbuds along side the iPhone 7 this year.

Apple has yet to capitalize on its $3 Billion Beats headphone acquisition and it’s also strongly rumored that the headphone jack is being removed from the iPhone 7 so all of the speculation appears to be coalescing. Last year Apple also sought a trademark on the term “AirPods”. Keep in mind that their existing earbuds are called EarPods.

Theres a fourth reason we are extremely likely to see the wireless earbuds this year and it has to do with Apples pattern of product development.

Apples way is to mature and perfect existing technologies. They did that very thing most blatantly with the iPhone, iPod, and Apple Watch. These items already existing in the market before Apple launched its own but they all lacked refinement and a critical level of user friendliness.

Apple perfects and than commercializes existing technologies that having proven that a market demand exist but yet remain in their infancy. And after commercializing the technology to such a huge audience at once, they capitalizing on the network affect where by the value of something goes up proportional to the number of people who use it.

So, what are some features we could expect from these new wireless earbuds? You you think that this product is just going to be about being wireless you have another thing coming. A lot of interesting innovation is coming from the existing products in this space.

\1. Dash: Big but filled with sensors. You can accept or dismiss phone calls with a nod of your head.

\2. Earin: The smallest of the bunch but only functions as earbuds. Theres not even a mic.

\3. Truebuds: Tries to strike a balance between size and capabilities.

\4. Kanoa: These appear to be a more sporty option with an emphasis on audio fidelity and not on a bunch of extra sensors.

\5. Moto Hint: Functions more like a very intelligent bluetooth headset. From the website: “Use Moto Hint for the ultimate experience in voice control. Simply ask and get answers to questions like ‘do I need an umbrella today?’, ‘what’s my next appointment?’, or ‘how far am I from home?’ —all without reaching for your phone.”

\6. Doppler: Doppler lets you completely customize your hearing experience of the outside world. Their video explaining the philosophy is pretty amazing.

Inside sources say that the headphones are similar in concept to the Motorola Hint headset and Bragi’s new Dash headphones and that the new headphones are likely to come with a carrying case that doubles as a rechargeable battery to juice up the headphones when they are not in use.

The possibilities are profound:

- Custom Audio This will be like augmented reality for your entire audio world; a literal mute button on the world. Imagine virtual rooms where entire groups of people are talking around you. Rooms that you can pop in and pop out when ever you want. I’m not sure we can fully imagine the extent of innovation possible in social interaction here.

- Always on Siri The space for always on digital assistants is heating up. Alexa and Google are always listening. All you have to do is call out their name and they are ready to respond. Apple can get there too with these earbuds.

- Holographic Audio This is where you hear sounds coming from specific points in space. This kind of audio has to be specially recorded from multiple points in space. People who experience it say theres nothing like it. It actually reminds me of the way the AI in Daniel Suarez’s Daemon series spoke to people. Thankfully, every one with an iPhone is a walking mic so a group of people could, theoretically speaking, holographically record an event to be experienced at a later time via their new specialized earbuds.

Yes, I will admit that I’v been complaining about not having Apple wireless earbuds since the iPhone 5.