Apple Inc. on Wednesday announced second-generation AirPods, adding hands-free Siri access, 50% longer talk time and optional wireless charging.
Anticipation has been keen for a follow-up to the AirPods, which have been a hit with consumers since their 2016 debut. The new version, which will still cost $159 and be available in stores next week, looks the same as the prior model.
The wireless headphones add a new H1 processor that Apple says increases talk time and the ability to summon Siri by saying, “Hey Siri.” Users previously needed to tap on the headphones to activate the voice assistant. Apple said the new chip also lets AirPods connect twice as fast to other devices.
Apple will sell a version for $199 that comes with a wireless charging case. The case, which also works with the original AirPods, will be available separately for $79. The company didn’t discuss its AirPower wireless charging pad, a delayed device announced in 2017 designed to let users simultaneously charge AirPods, an iPhone and an Apple Watch.
The Cupertino, Calif., company is also working on a version that will be water resistant and feature noise-canceling functionality. Also in the product pipeline: high-end, over-ear headphones that would compete with Bose and Apple’s own Beats brand.
The company is rolling out the new products now so it can put the focus on the expected launch of video streaming and magazine subscription services at a media event on Monday.