Mark Gurman and Debby Wu, writing at Bloomberg:
The design of the updated entry-level AirPods will be similar to the current AirPods Pro, gaining a shorter stem and replaceable ear tips. Apple is also looking to improve battery life. That model however will not have higher-end AirPods Pro features like noise-cancellation, said the people, who asked not to be identified discussing private matters.
For the new AirPods Pro, Apple is aiming to make the earbuds more compact by eliminating the short stem that currently sticks out from the bottom. A design in testing has a more rounded shape that fills more of a user’s a ear — similar to the latest designs from Samsung Electronics Co., Amazon.com Inc. and Google.
Apple has had a hit on its hand with the AirPod line—they seem to be following in the footsteps of the iPod, iPhone, and Apple Watch as iconic products. Sure, there are plenty of other wireless earbuds in the market, but Apple’s ability to have AirPods work seamlessly with their devices, plus the impressive audio engineering, has made certainly made them the ones to beat.
As such, it’s no surprise that the company would devote a lot of time, money, and energy to both improving the current line, as well as adding more products to appeal to more users. (One could argue the addition of the iPhone 12 Mini is a similar strategy.) Wu and Gurman also say that the rumored over-the-ear set of AirPods is still coming, though it has faced a series of delays that have pushed it back.
The HomePod is a more interesting story. We saw the announcement of the HomePod mini earlier this month, and though we’re still waiting to hear (ha ha) how the product is actually received, Apple seems to be considering adding either a mid-range unit or cutting the cost of the original HomePod (which is still nominally on sale for $299, although it is frequently sold at a substantial discount). The HomePod’s performance as a product is certainly less cut-and-dried than that of the AirPods, but the HomePod mini suggests that the company isn’t abandoning the line just yet.
Either way, the Bloomberg story suggests that none of these products are likely to appear before next year, and I would actually be surprised if they appear before next fall, in the run-up to holiday season 2021. Apple’s certainly shown that it’s willing to wait to what it thinks is the right time before releasing products these days.