Apple's next-generation AirPods Pro are set to finally get a USB-C connector, which would see the wireless earbuds joining the iPhone 15 in finally ditching the proprietary Lighting port.
That's according to Bloomberg's Mark Gurman in his Power On newsletter, in which he added that some AirPods will gain new built-in health features tied to iOS 17, including a test to check your hearing health and gauge your body temperature.
Not only does USB-C makes sense for the next-gen AriPods, given the connection is pretty much the de facto standard for a lot of modern gadgets and wearables, this rumor also tracks with others that claim Apple will finally switch from its proprietary Lightning cable to USB-C.
As for the new health features, Gurman says the next AirPods will be able to test how well a person can hear by playing play different tones and sounds. Apple's headphones already support audiograms, aka audio profiles that indicate to your AirPods how well you can hear different pitches or frequencies, but the feature is only available through a separate app, Mimi. Next-gen AirPods would replace this app with a built-in hearing test function, similar to Jabra's MySound feature on its Elite 75t earbuds.
Gurman says Apple is also exploring how its AirPods could pull double duty as a hearing aid now that the FDA has approved over-the-counter sales of hearing aids without an exam or prescription. The company's already brought engineers from traditional hearing aid manufacturers on board to work toward that end.
Temperature tracking could be baked into the next generation of AirPods as well. Engineering is underway to add sensors that'll let your AirPods gauge your body's temperature through your ear canal. The thinking is that taking your temperature through your ear delivers a more accurate reading than one using your wrist, a feature introduced with the Apple Watch 8 and Apple Watch Ultra. Gurman didn’t specify whether temperature tracking would be exclusive to the AirPods Pro, but it seems likely.
What's next for Apple's AirPods
Now for some bad news. Unfortunately, Gurman believes these new health features are “several months or even years away,” so we likely won't be seeing them anytime soon. He notes that AirPods have historically been on a three-year upgrade cycle, and the fact that the AirPods Pro 2 debuted only last year indicates a release in 2023 or even 2024 isn't likely.
In the meantime, Apple does plan on rolling out some new AirPods features along with the launch of iOS 17 this fall. At WWDC 2023, Apple previewed Adaptive Audio, which analyzes your environment to move between noise cancellation and transparency modes based on your surroundings. A new "conversation awareness" feature will be able to detect speech and automatically activate transparency mode and turn your music volume down so you won't miss what someone's saying.
Gurman says we can also expect some new functionality tied to Apple's long-awaited Vision Pro mixed-reality headset. The headset comes with speakers built in, but a special pairing algorithm with second-generation AirPods Pro models suggests Apple could offer an even more immersive audio experience using its earbuds.
We'll just have to wait and see. In the meantime, if you're in the market for a new pair of noise-canceling earbuds, see how the AirPods Pro 2 stack up against the Beats Fit Pro or how well the AirPods Pro 2 last on a jog. If you already own a pair, check out these 10 hidden AirPods Pro 2 features you should be using to get the most bang for your buck.