Apple Launches Second Generation AirPods; with “Hey Siri” Support, Wireless Charging Case, and Latency Improvements

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Apple has today launched the second generation of its popular AirPods, available with the long-promised wireless charging case, a new H1 chip designed specifically for headsets, hands-free “Hey Siri”, longer battery life, and faster connections to devices.

According to Apple, the new H1 chip delivers performance efficiencies, faster connect times, up to 50% more talk time compared to the first generation, and the convenience of hands-free “Hey Siri”.

Of particular interest to VoiceOver users, will be Apple's statement that latency has been improved by 30% over the previous generation AirPods. Although this is cited as a benefit for gamers, our hope is that it will also improve VoiceOver ‘lag’.

The new wireless charging case can be charged either wirelessly using a Qi-compatible charging mat or with the Lightning connector. As of yet, there is no news on a release for Apple's long overdue AirPower charging mat.

The new AirPods are available to order online now for US$199 with the wireless charging case, or with the standard case for US$159. The wireless charging case is also available separately for US$79 and is compatible with the first generation AirPods.

The specifications for the new AirPods state that they require macOS 10.14.4, iOS 12.2, or watchOS 5.2. With the AirPods shipping next week, this indicates that we will also be seeing software releases from Apple shortly.

Today's announcement follows closely on the heels of the arrival of new iPad Air and iPad mini models on Monday; yesterday's iMac refresh; and effectively confirms that Apple's focus for next week's “It's show time” event will be services.

Let us know in the comments your thoughts on the new AirPods and whether you plan on buying them.

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Submitted by brandon armstrong on Wednesday, March 20, 2019

hi their, I've got the ones with out the wireless case already added to my bag, and I plan on ordering them next month. I held off on buying airpods due to the fact I figured these would be coming out at some point.

Submitted by Mitchell on Wednesday, March 20, 2019

I have been waiting for these for the past year or so, and plan on picking them up.

Submitted by Brian Giles on Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Hoping Beats releases updates to their headphones with this new H1 chip. Air Pods have one deal-breaking issue for me, no volume controls and you can only assign one thing to the double tap on each air pod. I've been happy with my Beats X and would jump at an updated second gen.

Submitted by Holger Fiallo on Thursday, March 21, 2019

I wonder how it will work with iPhone and watch. Now the airpod that I have does not work well with both. If I tried to use apple watch 3 and iPhone xx it will not work. It will be nice if I could move from watch and iPhone without any problem.

Submitted by techluver on Thursday, March 21, 2019

I have a first gen airpods. think it's worth it to upgrade?

Submitted by Holger Fiallo on Thursday, March 21, 2019

In reply to by techluver

Not sure. I do not think the talking time is longer that current. The only thing I know is about the chip that suppose to make the transition from watch and iPhone or other device easy. I am not planning to upgrate my current airpod. I might get the wireless case if I had the money.

Submitted by Bo on Thursday, March 21, 2019

The H1 chip is supposed to extend useful talk time by 50%, to 3 hours, from 2.

If you have the original version, my recommendation would be to wait until you notice performance degradation before upgrading. I've had mine for two years now. After near daily use, (They're always in my pocket, ready for use,) I've noticed that listening time is maybe less than half of what it used to be, and my talk time is maybe 20 to 30 minutes before I start hearing the low battery sounds. Also, I used to use the left AirPod alone for phone calls, so the battery on that one dies long before the right.

With that said, my AirPods should arrive with the first batch around the 27th or 29th. Getting the wireless charging version, since I already have key charging mats all over the house.

Submitted by Bingo Little on Thursday, March 21, 2019

I read somewhere, perhaps it was here, that they're supposed to grip your ears better. I hope this is the case. Mine are not bad by any means, but from time to time I feel like they are slipping. I certainly wouldn't feel confident running while waring them, as some folk apparently do. I also hope they sort out the interfacing between airpods, watch and iPhone. I know some folk have siad that this appeared to have been sorted out with the latest IOS and Watch OS updates, but I haven't found that to be the case.

Submitted by Holger Fiallo on Thursday, March 21, 2019

In reply to by Bingo Little

No. Still having issues with it. Does not work. Using iPhone xx and applewatch 3.

Submitted by Oliver Kennett on Friday, March 22, 2019

Sad to see that they've not included a pass through audio stream for ambient awareness. I thought that this would be a feature especially as they are ramping up work into AR. Maybe next iteration. Really it's not much of a second generatio, at least, it's not got any real killer applications. Should have been called the AirPods S.

Submitted by Greg Wocher on Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Hello all,
Once again I won't be getting these. Apple has again taken the approach of one size fits all except for those it doesn't. I happen to be one of those that cannot wear these because they don't fit my ears. Beats is suppose to be launching a version like the airpods next month so I will have to wait for those.

Submitted by DPinWI on Tuesday, March 26, 2019

I was close to getting Air Pods, but when I heard they do not seamlessly switch between the watch and phone, I passed on them. My Plantronics earpiece does this. If the Air Pods 2 can do it, I haven't seen that news yet. Until they do, I will continue to use the Plantronics device for my at work needs, and my cheapo bluetooth headphone adapter for other listening.

Submitted by Paul Martin on Tuesday, March 26, 2019

In reply to by Oliver Kennett

They do in fact have a way to listen to the outside world is you will. All one needs to do is turn on the "Hearing Devices" switch in the control center settings. from that point, flick to the center in your preferred way, activate the new hearing devices button, and start live listen with the pods.
I know not if you can do this with music playing at the same time though, but it would certainly allow you to not take the ear pieces out to cross a street or anything else requiring attention to the outside world.

Submitted by Oliver Kennett on Tuesday, March 26, 2019

From my understanding, the live listen feature uses the microphones on the iPhone rather than on the AirPods, in which case, I'd not trust it crossing the road as I rely heavily on stereo for spacial awareness, IE, which side that bus is coming from... Uh oh... My hope was that they would use the microphones used for Siri and calls to have a pass through system.

Submitted by Carter Wu on Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Hi all,
I used the new airpods today.It makes me particularly excited.When we used airpods and voiceover together,VoiceOver's response speed has really improved.Although it still has some gaps compared to wired headsets, it has exceeded my expectations.