Apple has announced the third generation of its wireless AirPods, the latest generation of the company’s hugely popular true wireless earbuds with spatial sound.
Priced at $179, the third-generation AirPods are available for pre-order today and go on sale next week on October 26.
And with a new design that blends aspects of previous AirPods and AirPods Pro, third-generation AirPods retain tough plastic with a one-size-fits-most ear.
But the look is undergoing a major change for the first time since 2016, with the new earbuds having much shorter stems than before. The headphones are also now water and sweat resistant with an IPX4 rating for both the earbuds and the charging case.
Battery life is extended to 6 hours of continuous listening and up to four hours of talk time. Five minutes of charging provides about an hour of battery life.
And with the case, you get a total of 30 hours of listening time. It features a force sensor for easy control of music and phone calls. AirPods are now also part of the MagSafe wireless charging ecosystem.
The new third-generation AirPods feature a redesigned custom driver and Adaptive EQ that automatically adjusts and optimizes audio output by combining the power of the H1 chip with the company’s engineered audio system.
The inboard microphone for audio, and then Adaptive EQ, powered by arithmetic audio, adjusts the low and mid frequencies to account for what might be lost due to differences in fit.
The company is focusing heavily on spatial audio and blends Dolby Atmos music with its new AirPods. It supports the same dynamic head tracking capabilities as AirPods Pro and AirPods Max.
The original AirPods were released in 2016 followed by the second generation that added wireless charging and other modest improvements. AirPods Pro arrived in 2019 with a traditional in-ear fit with silicone ear tips.
And last year, Apple expanded its AirPods line to cover over-ear headphones for the first time with the launch of AirPods Max at $549.
And there was a lot of pressure for the latest AirPods to maintain the massive popularity of previous generations. The earbuds are popular due to their ease of use and seamless integration with the company’s system of devices, including the iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple Watch and Apple TV.
But Apple faces stiff competition, especially at lower price points. Aside from the latest alternatives from Samsung, Sony, Amazon, Jabra, and others, newcomers like Nothing have sought to differentiate themselves in terms of design and value with prices starting at around $99.
“AirPods have transformed wireless headphones with their innovative design, incredible sound, and magical experience,” said Greg Joswiak, the company’s senior vice president of global marketing. We’re excited to introduce the next generation of AirPods, featuring unparalleled audio through Adaptive EQ and spatial audio with dynamic head tracking, along with seamless interaction between Apple devices, making the world’s best-selling headphones even better.
The third generation of AirPods builds on the audio quality that AirPods are known for, starting with a custom driver and high dynamic range amplifier that together produce powerful sound with crisp, high frequencies.
The microphone is covered with an acoustic grille to help reduce wind noise, so the speaker’s voice is clearly visible in calls.
AirPods also feature AAC-ELD, a superior speech codec that delivers Full HD audio quality, providing clear, natural communication for FaceTime calls.
Using advanced spatial sound algorithms, and by applying directional audio filters to tune the frequencies each ear receives, the new AirPods can position sound throughout the user.
Audio Sharing allows listeners to share audio streams between two sets of AirPods, AirPods Pro, or AirPods Max, while using their iPhone, iPad, iPod touch or Apple TV.
A new skin-detection sensor accurately marks whether AirPods are in the ear and pauses playback when removed.
To help with voice clarity, beamforming microphones block out ambient noise and focus on the user’s voice. While users can also enjoy a hands-free experience just by saying Hey Siri for requests.