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New Apple AirPods are finally on their way - and could feature biometric smarts

Updated wireless earphones have earned mandatory Bluetooth certification

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Apple's highly anticipated second-generation AirPod earphones should be with us soon, as they have been spotted passing through the mandatory Bluetooth SIG (Special Interest Group) certification process.

Manufacturers of Bluetooth devices are all required to apply for this certification with the non-profit organization behind Bluetooth. Now, MySmartPrice reports a new version of the AirPods have passed through this certification process, taking them a step closer to being announced by Apple and going on sale.

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As well as a pair of new model numbers, the filing shows the updated AirPods have support for Bluetooth 5.0, which should help increase their wireless range and boost battery life.

The current AirPods have been on sale since December 2016, and an update in early-2019 is starting to look likely. Apple announced a new wireless charging case for the earphones in the fall of 2017 (along with the AirPower wireless charger), but neither device has gone on sale yet.

It has been reported that Apple is struggling with overheating issues with the AirPower, which is designed to wirelessly charge an iPhone, Apple Watch, and the AirPods case at the same time.

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Reports from this summer claimed Apple wants to add biometric sensors and more intelligence to future generations of the AirPods. A new 'Pro' version of the earphones is expected to get 'Hey Siri' support along with biometric sensors, for which Apple won a patent in early-2017.

Now, trademark filings in Europe and Hong Kong suggest Apple is looking to include "wellness sensors" in upcoming AirPods, the MySmartPrice report claims. One aspect of the trademark filing states: "General wellness instruments, namely, health, fitness, exercise, and wellness sensors, monitors, speakers and displays for measuring, displaying, tracking, reporting, monitoring, storing, and transmitting biometrics data, heart rate, body movement, and calories burned."

Of course, the reference to displays and monitors will likely refer to a companion app, such as Apple's own Health app on the iPhone, and fitness-tracking aspects of the Apple Watch. But the emphasis on wellness, specifically in relation to AirPods, is intriguing.

Given Apple has spent the last two months updating its Watch, iPhone, iPad and Mac lines, it is unlikely that more new products will be announced before the end of the year - especially given the demand and lengthy stock shortages suffered by the original AirPods. We suspect a spring launch will be most likely.

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