Apple looks to replace AirPods Max digital crown with touch controls
A sequel to the over-ear AirPods Max could replace the digital crown with touch controls
The H1 debuted on the AirPods 2 replacing the W1 chip used with the OG AirPods. The H1 improved latency and added the “Hey Siri” feature allowing for the hands-free use of Siri. A further upgrade to a new chip for the AirPods Pro 2 should make the earbuds even more seamless when switching devices. A newer chip replacing the H1 might also be able to increase battery life on the AirPods Pro 2.
Illustration from patent application shows how Apple would replace the digital crown on the AirPods Max with touch controls
Right now, if you have spatial audio off and include power from the charging case, the AirPods 3 delivers roughly 30 hours of battery life vs. just 24 for the premium-priced AirPods Pro. That injustice is bound to get corrected with the release of the AirPods Pro 2.
We briefly touched on what to expect for the AirPods Pro 2. What can we expect for the AirPods Max 2? Well, a patent that Apple received in 2019 for smart fabrics with touch sensor controls has technology that deliversthese controls for over-ear headphones. Two additional patents awarded to Apple in 2020 focused on providing users with touch gesture input on the outside of the ear cups.
Headphones rarely feature input capabilities
The patent notes that headphones usually have few if any, input capabilities. As a result, actions like raising the volume, changing the tracks, and pausing the audio are usually handled through the device that the headphones are plugged into.
Currently, audio controls on the AirPods Max are adjusted by using a digital crown similar to the digital crown found on the Apple Watch. The digital crown on AirPods Max controls volume, skip between tracks, answer calls, and activates digital assistant Siri.
There is no guarantee that Apple will be awarded the patent. Even if it is, there is no promise that the technology laid out in the application will be used on the AirPods Max 2. Still, it makes sense to give users touch controls that might be easier to use to control their audio experience than using a digital crown.