Next version of Apple’s iconic AirPods may have a touch screen on the case

Apple has plans for a future AirPods case featuring a built-in touchscreen display that would allow users to control audio sources and interact with apps associated with the connected device, as per a recently published patent.

The patent, filed by Apple in September 2021 and published last week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, titled “Devices, Methods, and Graphical User Interface Interactions with a Headphones Case,” clearly outlines various designs for such a concept. It includes visual depictions of AirPods alongside a touchscreen on the front of the case.

The patent states, “Audio output device cases are commonly passive devices used to charge audio output devices. The utility of a headphone case can be enhanced, and user control over a user’s wireless headphones can be improved, by configuring a headphone case with an interactive user interface to enable user control of operations associated with the wireless headphones.”

Apple envisions one scenario where users can control Apple Music through the case using a capacitive touchscreen with a graphical user interface (GUI) that provides tactile feedback. This would allow users to manage audio playback, adjust volume, favorite songs, and engage with their music without needing to visually focus on the case.

Additionally, the case could respond to gestures like taps and swipes to navigate content and activate Siri. Apple also explores the possibility of using squeezing gestures to change AirPods’ listening modes, such as Noise Cancelation and Transparency.

The patent suggests integrating additional processors and memory modules into the case to execute instructions typically associated with smartphones, computers, and other connected devices. Examples include accessing iPhone apps like Phone, Mail, Messages, Camera, Calendar, Weather, Maps, and more through the case’s touchscreen.

While the technology described in the patent may not materialize in a product soon, if at all, it offers insight into Apple’s exploration of enhancing the functionality of an AirPods case as a bridge between AirPods and connected audio sources.

Since the initial release of AirPods in 2016, Apple has continuously improved the functionality of the AirPods Case across various models. Specifically, the AirPods Pro case has seen notable enhancements such as MagSafe wireless charging support, inclusion of a U1 Ultra Wideband chip for Precision Tracking with Find My, a lanyard loop for convenience, a built-in speaker for locating purposes and status updates, as well as extended battery life.


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