The next generation of Apple AirPods may come with a host of health and fitness features, including temperature sensing and hearing tests. The news comes via Bloomberg's resident Apple expert Mark Gurman, who often gleans insider info about upcoming products and services from his industry contacts.
Many running headphones (such as the Amazfit Powerbuds Pro) already include some fitness tracking features, with heart rate monitoring being the most common. Optical heart rate monitors work by shining a light on your skin and then analyzing the properties of the light that's reflected back. The ear is a particularly good place to measure your heart rate (potentially better than a GPS watch) because once an earbud is in place, there's almost no light from external sources. Unlike the wrist, the ear won't be affected by gripping motions, and doesn't move like your arm does when you run.
It looks like Apple is planning something different. As James Stables of Wareable explains, next-gen AirPods could offer health features that work in tandem with your Apple Watch, rather than duplicating its functions. So rather than keeping tabs son your pulse, the new earbuds could work with your watch's hearing health tools (which warn you if environmental noise levels are too high) and perform a hearing health check that can give you early warning of developing problems.
It's also been suggested that the upcoming AirPods may include a temperature sensor, which could help with menstrual cycle and fertility tracking, give an indication of whether you're overtraining, and potentially even provide an early warning that you might be starting to get sick.
There's no guarantee that these tools will come with the next iteration of AirPods Pro and Max – not least because it would mean going through the time-consuming process of FDA approval. However, Gurman's sources are often reliable, and it'll be very interesting to see what's included when the new earbuds launch next year.
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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).