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Apple reportedly adding voice activation to new AirPods this year, water resistance next

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Improved wireless chip and touch-free Siri activation highlight 2018 model refresh, according to report

Apple AirPods Photo by Amelia Holowaty Krales / The Verge

Apple’s release plans for new AirPods models have been divulged in a Bloomberg report this morning. The Cupertino company is said to be planning to refresh the AirPods, first released in late 2016, with a new model this year, whose highlight changes will be an improved wireless chip and the ability to activate Siri voice commands just by saying “Hey Siri.” Presently, you have to tap on one of the wireless earbuds to make that happen. Beyond 2018, Bloomberg goes on to suggest that Apple will make the AirPods water-resistant in a 2019 update.

In the world of headphones, popular models can go years without being updated, but in the world of Apple, fast and regular iteration is the more expected cadence. So it’s not a surprise to see Apple already planning two models ahead. What might be most intriguing about today’s revelation is actually the wireless chip improvements. Apple already has the best and most convenient Bluetooth audio setup with its W1 chip connecting the iPhone to compatible Beats and AirPods models. Any further enhancement, whether in the efficiency or efficacy of this system, is likely to only increase Apple’s lead at a time when most headphone manufacturers are still failing to provide foolproof and painless methods to get their devices to sync with smartphones.