Apple AirPods Studio were already rumored to be unlike any other AirPods we've ever seen, thanks to their over-ear design. But a newly published patent shows how Apple might give the Studios the smarts to compete with (and beat) the Bose 700.
While we'd already heard that Apple was working on touch-sensitive surfaces for the ear-cups, this latest trick shows how Apple plans to make those surfaces even smarter.
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According to a newly published Apple patent titled "Detection of headphone rotation," (opens in new tab) found by Patently Apple (opens in new tab), the Cupertino-based company is toying with a technology that allows your headphones know the position they're in. This could allow the AirPods Studio to adjust how those touch inputs on the sides work based on how you're wearing them.
That way, AirPods Studio would have the same reaction for users swiping in different directions on the headphones. Most of those gestures are obvious too: two fingers forward would skip a track, two fingers back would rewind, and two fingers up and down could raise and lower volume.
This will be a helpful trick (if it comes to fruition -- and not all patents do), as we don't all wear our headphones the same way. I've seen it countless times in the past, noticing AirPods sticking out of people's ears in all directions, and over-ear headphones worn with the band on the top of the head, diagonally pointing away and horizontally.
The aforementioned Bose 700 headphones also offer gesture controls, but they can't intuit the position the headphones are in.
According to a leak from this past May, AirPods Studio may be coming any day now, having entered mass production earlier this year. Would Apple time them to its fall iPhone 12 event, or save them for later? As a fan of both over-ear headphones and AirPods, I can say I would not be surprised if that fall/winter release happens, as they seem like a prime holiday gift.