Apple's latest iOS code may have accidentally leaked the AirPods-like over-ear headphones expected to launch this year

Crystal Cox/Business InsiderBeats headphones
  • The underlying code for Apple’s next big software upgrade includes a graphic showing over-ear headphones, providing another clue that the company could be preparing to release a new pair of high-end headphones.
  • The image doesn’t tell us much, but it does indicate that the headphones may come in a light and dark colour option.
  • Apple is expected to release the headphones in the first half of 2020, according to analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
  • Doing so could give Apple a firmer grip on its lead in the wearable technology market, which it already dominates thanks to the popularity of the Apple Watch and AirPods.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

We may have just gotten our first look at what Apple’s long-rumoured over-ear headphones may look like, thanks to a leak spotted by 9to5Mac.

The blog claims to have gotten a look at the code for iOS 14, which is believed to be Apple’s next major operating system upgrade for the iPhone. Buried in that code is a graphic showing a pair of over-ear headphones, says 9to5Mac, further fuelling rumours and reports suggesting that Apple is working on a pair of premium, over-ear headphones.

The image doesn’t provide much detail about the headphones’ design, but it does suggest that they will come in light and dark colour options. That would mean Apple is taking a slightly different approach than it has with its popular AirPods, which are only available in one white colour option.

Apple did not immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment.

It’s not the first time an Apple product has leaked through software code. Back in 2017, a similar graphic showing the iPhone X’s design had appeared in a firmware release before the phone’s September announcement, as MacRumors reported at the time.

Rumours about a pair of Apple-branded over-ear headphones have been circulating since 2018, and they have been picking up steam in 2020 ever since well-regarded analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicted that the company is planning to launch them in early 2020. The headphones are expected to function very similarly to AirPods, but with a more premium audio experience. Apple is hoping to position them as a high-end alternative to its Beats line that could compete with models from Bose and Sennheiser, according to Bloomberg.

Launching a pair of premium headphones would help Apple expand its rapidly growing wearables business, which has flourished in recent quarters thanks to the popularity of products like AirPods and the Apple Watch. It would also help Apple tighten its grip on the wireless headphone and wearable technology market.

Global shipments of wearable devices grew by 94.6% year-over-year in the third quarter of 2019, according to the International Data Corporation, and that growth was largely driven by increased demand for wireless headphones. Apple captured the top spot with 35% of global shipments of wearable devices during the quarter.

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