The second-generation AirPods Pro may support Apple Lossless Audio Codec (ALAC), and could even come with a case that makes a sound to help you find it, according to Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo in a note to investors seen by AppleInsider and 9to5Mac.
There currently isn’t an AirPods model that supports lossless audio, a form of file compression that preserves all of the data in the original audio file, resulting in higher quality sound. Each AirPods model — even the pricey AirPods Max — uses Bluetooth to deliver audio, which limits the devices to using Advanced Audio Codec (AAC), a lossy form of audio compression. Thus far, the only Apple devices that can take advantage of lossless audio on Apple Music (and elsewhere) include the iPhone, iPad, Mac, Apple TV 4K, and Apple HomePod. The main downside to lossless audio is that its files take up more storage space on your device, and streaming it online can quickly eat up mobile data.
If the AirPods Pro 2 does support ALAC, Apple will either have to ditch Bluetooth or jump over some of the technology’s hurdles to accomplish that. The limitations of Bluetooth were brought up in What Hi-Fi’s recent interview with Gary Geaves, the vice president of acoustics at Apple. During the interview, Geaves said the company will need to work hard to get the most out of Bluetooth technology, and also noted that “there’s a number of tricks we can play to maximize or get around some of the limits of Bluetooth,” but “more bandwidth” would be ideal — a potential hint of what’s to come.
As for the possibility of a charging case that emits sound, this may help you find your case if it’s ever separated from your AirPods — right now, only the AirPods themselves make a noise when you try to locate them via the Find My app. Also noted by 9to5Mac and AppleInsider, Kuo predicts that the AirPods Pro 2 could sport a redesign and may have a focus on fitness, something that was previously rumored by Bloomberg. In addition, Kuo says that Apple may release the AirPods Pro 2 in the fourth quarter of 2022, about three years after the release of the first AirPods Pro.