Apple just launched new AirPods with wireless charging and hands-free Siri

Apple announced a new version of its AirPods on Wednesday that offer improved performance and the ability to summon Siri hands-free. They’re launching immediately on Apple’s online store and are expected to arrive in its brick-and-mortar retail stores next week.

The refreshed wireless headphones are powered by Apple’s H1 wireless chip, which the company says is designed for headphones and should deliver more efficient performance, faster connect times, more talk time, and support for “Hey Siri” hands-free. Apple is also offering the option to purchase the new AirPods with a wireless charging case.

AirPods with the standard charging case are priced at $159, the same price Apple charged for the previous-generation model, while the version with the wireless charging case costs $199. Apple is also selling the wireless charging case individually for $79.

The company says the new H1 chip will improve audio quality and synchronization, making it possible to connect to devices twice as fast and delivering 50% more talk time.

The new AirPods are one of several new Apple products to debut this week, joining new iPads and a refreshed iMac, marking the company’s third product announcement ahead of its event scheduled for Monday.

The TF International Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted in December that Apple would refresh its wireless earbuds in the first quarter of 2019. Kuo also correctly predicted that the biggest improvements would include improved connectivity and a case that’d support wireless charging, adding that a more significant redesign would come in 2020.

Apple debuted its first generation of AirPods in 2016 alongside the iPhone 7, the company’s first iPhone without a headphone jack. While Apple has not disclosed sales data for its AirPods, Kuo’s estimates indicate they’re selling well. He predicts that Apple will sell 50 million to 55 million AirPods in 2019, adding that their “growth momentum” would be the “fastest among Apple products.”

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