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Could the upcoming Apple Airpods Pro 2 make you leave your Garmin at home?

Woman tying running shoes wearing wireless earbuds
(Image credit: Getty)

Apple is expected to reveal the Airpods Pro 2 at its product showcase event this fall, and it's been suggested that they could be packing some impressive fitness tracking tech – possibly even enough to let you leave your best GPS watch at home (at least sometimes).

Mark Gurman (opens in new tab) of Bloomberg News, a dependable source of insider info on Apple products, has dropped some interesting hints about the second-generation Airpods Pro. According to Gurman's sources, the new buds might completely forego the characteristic stems of Apple's previous in-ear headphones, making them into more compact and rounded like the Google Pixel Buds.

Interestingly, it sounds like Apple is planning to cram even more tech into those small buds. In 2021, Gurman reported that the headphones' new chip won't just offer improved noise cancelling, but will work with an optical sensor to provide heart rate monitoring for use during workouts (opens in new tab) too.

Run to the beat

Monitoring heart rate inside the ear makes a lot of sense, and has several advantages over measuring it from the wrist like a sports watch. There's less light to cause interference with the optical sensor, you don't have to compensate for horizontal swinging movement, and there's better circulation. Many of the best running headphones already capitalize on this, such as the Amazfit Powerbuds Pro, Bose Soundsport Pulse, and Jabra Elite Sport. If anything, it's a surprise that Apple hasn't jumped in sooner.

As Amazfit has demonstrated, it's also possible to equip a pair of true wireless earbuds with an accelerometer that detects the characteristic bouncing movement of running and starts tracking heart rate automatically, calculate footsteps, and even estimate distance. 

Unfortunately, Gurman recently backtracked on his initial report, and now suggests that the next-gen headphones will arrive with improved spatial audio, but without heart rate monitoring. 

That's unfortunate. Apple has been making real progress turning the Apple Watch into a genuine Garmin alternative for runners with the addition of a triathlon mode and running power from the wrist, but the ability tot rack basic stats without any watch at all could be a real boon for runners who prefer to hit the streets and the trails unencumbered, and only check their data one they're back home.

Gurman's sources aren't infallible though, so we'll be keeping our fingers crossed to a fitness-focused set of headphones when the Airbuds Pro 2 land in the fall.

Cat Ellis
Editor

Cat is the editor of Advnture, She’s been a journalist for 13 years, and was fitness and wellbeing editor on TechRadar before joining the Advnture team in 2022. She’s a UK Athletics qualified run leader, and in her spare time enjoys nothing more than lacing up her shoes and hitting the roads and trails (the muddier, the better).