By: Nick Gambino
Apple has been teasing second-generation AirPods for a while and now they’re finally here. Though I’m not sure it was so much the company teasing new AirPods as it was consumers demanding them.
Announced this week, the AirPods will include wireless charging and “Hey, Siri” support. The case works as a conduit for wireless charging using standard Qi charging. That means if you’ve already got a wireless charging pad for some other gadget like an iPhone, then it should work to charge your AirPods.
The case is nearly identical to the first-gen case, save an LED light that indicates battery life. This is a simple but very welcome addition. Currently, there’s no way to check the battery life on my case without the use of my iPhone. I have to either open the lid near my phone until the battery life display pops up on my screen or I have to check the battery widget. This new battery light allows me to get an idea of its charge in an instant.
“Hey, Siri” is another welcome addition for those that like to use the digital assistant to carry out commands. Siri has been available to use with AirPods since their inception but until now you would have to double tap one of your AirPods to activate her (or whatever gesture you’ve assigned to call up Siri). With the new voice command to call upon your virtual servant, it feels even more hands-free than before.
Apple is also touting, as they are wont to do, the new faster, more powerful chip stored inside. Steering away from the W1 chip borrowed from the Watch, Apple has introduced a headphone specific-chip. The H1 chip allows for an additional hour of phone time, which is 50% longer than you were able to speak before. The new chip also contributes to improved mic clarity and faster connection time between devices.
The new features don’t come without cost. The new AirPods with the wireless charging case will fetch a cool $199. If you opt to stick with the standard case without wireless charging capability, it’ll only cost you $159. They are going to sell the wireless charging case for $79 to any existing users. So, you won’t need to upgrade to take advantage of this convenient charging option.
You can pre-order the second-gen AirPods right now. Current delivery dates on the site range between April 2 and April 5.