AirPods Pro will turn three this October, and a second generation has long been tipped for 2022. Now, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has put his weight behind a Q4 release date for AirPods Pro 2, and outlined some of the upgrades we can expect later this year.
In an investment note seen by 9to5Mac, Kuo says the most significant upgrade is the planned introduction of lossless audio, via Apple’s own ALAC (Apple Lossless Audio Codec) format. No other lossless format is mentioned, which is perhaps unsurprising given it would be a good way of pushing audiophiles towards Apple Music — which recently gained ALAC support — rather than Spotify or similar.
Lossless tracks are also significantly larger files, which would be handy for Apple as it looks to upsell iPhone 14 handsets with more internal storage later in the year. It would certainly make the rumored 2TB iPhone 14 model that bit easier to justify.
But there are significant problems to overcome, too. The most tricky of these is the limitations of Bluetooth itself, which presents something of a bottleneck. It’s possible that Apple could look to push its own standard, or simply develop a codec to make ALAC achievable, but it’s certainly something the company is chewing over. In an interview with our sister site What Hi-Fi, Apple’s Gary Geaves made it clear that the company would “like more bandwidth” and hinted that it has plans in that direction, without stating exactly what they might be.
Elsewhere in the note, Kuo reaffirms the rumor that Apple will use the Pro earbuds for health management in some way, and suggests they may boast a “new form factor design.” While he doesn’t elaborate, it’s notable that AirPods 3 saw their stems significantly reduced, so that could be an area to watch.
Finally, Apple reportedly has something in the works for those who keep misplacing their AirPods. Kuo claims that the charging case “can emit a sound for users to track.” That would, of course, rely on you docking your buds before losing them, but it’s better than nothing.
Kuo anticipates a Q4 release date for AirPods Pro 2, which would put the earbuds firmly towards the end of the year, even later than the usual September launch of new flagship iPhones and Apple Watches. Still, Kuo is confident that the demand is there, with the analyst predicting shipments of 18 to 20 million units before the end of 2022.