This could be our first look at Apple's next AirPods, which are rumoured to support noise cancelling

Hollis Johnson/Business InsiderThe current version of Apple’s AirPods.
  • Apple reportedly has a new and improved set of AirPods in the works.
  • The new AirPods would represent the first major update to the AirPods since they launched in December 2016.
  • The expected improvement includes water-resistant and noise-cancelling technology. Those additions are said to up the overall price as well, somewhere above the current price of $US160.
  • Though Apple has yet to confirm the next-generation AirPods, an image uncovered in a beta version of the iPhone operating system depicts headphones that appear to be the unannounced headphones.
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Apple is reportedly planning to unveil the first major update to the AirPods, with enhanced features such as water resistance and noise cancellation.

Rumours point to a 2020 launch window and a higher price tag for the next-generation AirPods. But what will they look like?

That’s the big question, and a newly unearthed Apple image from the iOS beta may have just offered us a first look:

Apple AirPods icon, iOS 13.2 betaApple

The image was discovered by MacRumors, and it lines up suspiciously well with an early photo leak of the next-generation AirPods. In that leak, a pair of what are said to be redesigned Apple AirPods appear – distinctly different from the existing AirPods in a few crucial ways. For one, the stems are shorter. Even more importantly, though, both Apple’s image and the photo from months ago depict headphones that use little rubberised tips to seal against your ear.

The AirPods revamp comes as Apple faces increasing competition in the wireless-earbuds market that it has until now largely had to itself. Last month, Amazon unveiled its $US130 Echo Buds, and on Wednesday, Microsoft announced the Surface Earbuds, which will cost $US249.

Apple representatives didn’t respond to a request for comment as of publishing.

Read more:
Apple is expected to launch 3 new iPhones this year – here’s everything we know so far

Technically speaking, Apple already updated its AirPods this year.

The second-generation AirPods, pictured above, added “Hey, Siri” functionality and a longer battery life. Apple also introduced a wireless-charging case as an option for an extra $US40.

This more iterative approach, which kept the look and $US160 price of the original AirPods, isn’t being abandoned with the third-generation AirPods, 9to5Mac reported.

According to Ming-Chi Kuo, an analyst with TF International Securities, a more subtle update to AirPods will also arrive along with the upgraded pair. These AirPods will retain a lower asking price but are unlikely to feature water resistance and noise cancellation. They are expected to arrive in the first quarter of 2020 along with the more heavily updated AirPods.

Apple has yet to acknowledge the rumours or announce new AirPods officially.

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