Yesterday, Apple released the RC beta of iOS 16.4, which has revealed some interesting clues about possible new products from the company. In addition to bringing several interesting new features, some references to new AirPods and an update of the Beats Studio Buds have been discovered in the internal code of the operating system.
What can we expect from these new headphones, and when will Apple introduce them? Right now we have more questions than answers, certainly, but it is clear that Apple is working on news that should arrive sooner rather than later.
Truly mysterious new AirPods
Let’s start by talking about AirPods. The iOS 16.4 RC beta contains references to new AirPods with model number A3048, as well as a new charging case with model number A2968. Some numbers, discovered by @aaronp613, that do not correspond to any current AirPods, so they basically raise a big question mark.
We haven’t heard any kind of rumors that Apple is working on new AirPods at this point. Also, it seems too soon for the company to release a new version of the AirPods, as they were updated in 2021 with the introduction of the AirPods 3.
While we don’t know exactly what this reference means, it’s possible that Apple is preparing an update to the AirPods to include USB-C for charging, instead of the Lightning connector they currently use. Another option, although with very little weight at this point, would be to talk about a space edition in some color. On the other hand, it could actually be a new version of the headphones.
And new Beats Studio Buds+
As if the AirPods mystery wasn’t enough, the iOS 16.4 RC beta has also revealed that Apple is working on an update to the Beats Studio Buds, which it calls Beats Studio Buds+. Spotted by 9to5mac, these headphones could include improved active noise cancellation and transparency mode. Inside, after initial doubts that they might include the same chip as the AirPods, the H1/W1, it appears that these headphones will continue to use a custom Beats chip.
The original Beats Studio Buds were launched in 2021 as a cheaper alternative to the AirPods, priced at €189.95. Now, following the strategy of the AirPods and AirPods Pro, to draw an analogy, Apple could launch the Beats Studio Buds+ with some extra features or improvements in sound and noise cancellation.
A strategy that has already worked very well with the AirPods range and could be extrapolated to the Beats starting with this particular model. But this is not the end of it all, as what remains up in the air is the date.
When will we see these new headsets?
The release date. Normally, Apple includes references to new devices when they are very close to their launch. It does this so that, when they reach the market, they can be recognized by our iPhone or iPad and other devices and work as expected. In this case, the decision to include the references in iOS 16.4, which should arrive in about a week, is very suspicious.
Certainly, if these are minor renovations, there could be news via a press release, we have seen this in the past. Another option would be that Apple could announce a small spring event, something prior to WWDC 2023 in June. Something, in fact, that would explain why WWDC invitations are taking so long to arrive.
Clearly, we are making assumptions, but the references are there. When will we see these new headsets? It could be now or it could be several months from now, but in the latter case why has the reference been included in the operating systems now? We’ll have to wait a bit longer to get the full story, but what is clear is that surprises are coming.