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Apple patent hints at future AirPods case doubling up as wireless speaker

Apple AirPods might soon come with a charging case that also acts as a speaker.

  • Published: April 18, 2018 12:46 PM IST

Apple AirPods can stake claim for being one of the coolest products from the iPhone maker in the past few years. Despite its controversial design, the AirPods offer ergonomic fit and decent audio experience especially when paired with the new iPhones that miss out on 3.5mm headphone jack. However, the AirPods case is only useful for storage and charging. But they could soon be more useful is a patent is to be believed.

A new patent filed by Apple shows that the company is considering turning that case into a Bluetooth speaker, Cult Of Mac reports. It is not clear whether the patent will translate into a real product, but it does suggest that Apple is toying around with the idea of AirPods case doing double duty as speaker as well.

The application filed with the US Patent and Trademark Office describes the idea. “A case for a wireless electronic listening device (e.g., a pair of wireless earbuds) is configured to house a pair of wireless earbuds and charge the earbuds when they are in the case. The case is further configured to receive media received by the wireless earbuds and transmit the media to a non-wireless output device connected to the case,” reads the description.

While the description does sound interesting, it could well end up being just another patent in Apple’s portfolio. However, it is easy to state that an AirPod charging case that is also a wireless speaker will be a popular offering. The key idea here is that the user will be able to continue to listen to music even when the AirPods are charging.

Beyond turning the case into a wireless speaker, Apple is also considering other expanded functionality for the case. The patent it received today details support for Bluetooth pairing between the AirPods and the case, which will be in addition to an iPhone. This function will help in streaming music from the charging case where the case itself received audio from a wired connection.

“The case may further include its own wireless radio that can wirelessly communicate audio to the wireless earbuds when the earbuds are not in the case. The case may further include an input port to receive an audio signal from a non-wireless source and may be configured to wirelessly transmit the audio received from the source to the wireless earbuds,” adds the patent description.

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This feature will be particularly useful when the user wants to use AirPods case with a non-mobile device. One of the biggest features of the AirPods is the W1 chip, which allows for seamless connection with a compatible Apple device. The AirPods can be paired with multiple Apple devices into iPhone, iPad, and a Mac. Once it is paired with a device, it automatically pairs with every other device via the same Apple ID.

To recall, Apple launched AirPods as its first truly wireless earbuds in 2016. The AirPods acted as complementary device to iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, which lacked the proprietary 3.5mm audio jack. Since its introduction, the AirPods have become ubiquitous as go to wireless earbuds for owners of Apple devices. The patent suggests Apple will soon introduce a new version of AirPods with “Hey Siri” support, and where the case might double up as speaker.

  • Published Date: April 18, 2018 12:46 PM IST