Apple could be designing an AirPods case with a touchscreen
A future version of Apple's AirPods could come with a case that has a touchscreen on it. The Cupertino company filed a patent for the design in September 2022, though it was only made public a week ago by the U.S. Patent and Trademark office.
Patent shows AirPods case with a touchscreen panel
The document, which was first spotted by Patently Apple, illustrates the possible design of the case. It has a hinge on the back side, to allow the lid to be opened, and place the AirPods inside for storage and to charge the wireless headphones.
Figures 5A and 5B in the patent highlights the design of the AirPods case with an interactive touchscreen in the front housing. The display has music playback controls to pause the current track, to jump to the previous or next tracks, and a seek bar. The case will provide tactile feedback (haptic) when the user interacts with the screen. Another image shows a movie playing on the screen. The patent also suggests that taps and swipes aren't the only way to control the audio on it, Apple wants to implement a squeeze mechanism to switch between audio modes easily.
A concept art shared by MacRumors shows off a sleek looking AirPods case, and it sort of looks like an iPod, doesn't it? It also reminds me of those old-school pager (beeper) devices that were popular in the 90s.
The interactive screen will provide notifications from various apps such as Mail, Message, Contacts, etc. The display could allow users to invoke various functions from accessing Siri, to controlling Apple Music, Apple TV+ and even access Maps quickly. The idea is to let users view important information, and manage their music playback without taking their phone out. Frankly, a lot of this does seem similar to the functionality of the Apple Watch.
Current AirPods cases do little more than to charge your wireless earbuds, they can connect with your Apple devices to let you view the current battery level of the case. It also lets you track the location of the device, but this only works if the AirPods are inside the case. The AirPods Pro is an exception to this, as it does have a U1 Ultraband chip that lets you locate the device. The higher-end version also has a built-in speaker for locating it, and supports MagSafe wireless charging. The fact that a future version of AirPods case could let you use Maps suggests it may offer improved support for location services, which should be a welcome feature for many people.
Of course, one does have to wonder what these additional functionalities will mean to the cost of the AirPods case. Given that it describes an experience similar to smartphones, it could come at a higher price than normal. Apple has also been rumored to be working on adding health-related features to the AirPods.
Just because a patent was filed doesn't necessarily guarantee that the product will come into existence, but it could be an interesting addition to make the AirPods case more useful. It will also be interesting to see how many of these software features are usable without an iPhone connected to the case.Advertisement