The report also repeats previous claims that Apple is readying a new, entry-level set of AirPods for later in 2021 that will borrow their design from the current AirPods Pro.
Citing “people with knowledge of the matter,” Bloomberg claims that the next AirPods Pro will include updated motion sensors with a focus on fitness tracking.
Adding fitness tracking to the AirPods Pro would be a logical move for Apple. The company has a long history of fitness-focused features going all the way back to 2006 when it introduced the Nike+partnership. Nike+ saw small sensors incorporated into Nike’s running shoes which could send activity data back to an iPod nano or iPhone.
Since then, Apple has expanded its fitness offering considerably through the Apple Watch, which has a host of sensors for tracking steps, heart rate, and even blood oxygen levels. These fitness features eventually gave rise to the Apple Fitness+ subscription service that lets people follow expert-led workout routines on any iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV, with tracking provided by the Apple Watch.
But the Apple Watch remains a fairly expensive device and not everyone who would like to take advantage of Apple Fitness+ wants to own Apple’s smartwatch.
Embedding extra sensors in the AirPods Pro could eliminate the need for an Apple Watch, or make an existing Apple Watch more accurate by combining two sources of data.
Embedding fitness sensors inside earbuds is hardly new. Jabra’s Elite Sport true wireless earbuds, which debuted in 2017, have built-in heart rate monitors, and Samsung and Bose have both release earbuds in the past that have similar technology. Most recently, Amazon added basic activity tracking to its second-gen Amazon Echo Buds.
But it’s not the sensors that matter as much as what people can do with the data that these sensors capture. That’s where Apple has a distinct advantage. Whether you use the Fitness app built into iOS, or go with the subscription-based Apple Fitness+ service, Apple has developed a full suite of software and services that can give fitness fans an immersive view of their overall health and progress toward their personal goals.