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Apple’s AirPods are available in four different versions: AirPods Pro, now in their second generation, AirPods Max, AirPods third-generation and the older, but still on sale, AirPods second-generation. But it may be that something else in the world of AirPods is on its way. At the very least, it may mean the move from Lightning to USB-C is imminent.
A new reference to AirPods has appeared in the latest version of beta software for iPhone, the release candidate version of iOS 16.4. According to a tweet from @aaronp613, who works at developer HavocRepo, the software refers to a new AirPods model number and a new case model number.
The tweet says, “Exclusive: iOS 16.4 references new AirPods with the model number A3048 and a new AirPods case with the model number A2968”.
This is intriguing, so what does it mean?
Let’s look at the case first. Just as the iPhone 15 is expected to switch from a Lightning connector to USB-C, and all new iPads and Mac laptops now use USB-C, other Apple products are believed to adopt USB-C in due course. So, one possibility is that Apple will update the case for, say, the current AirPods Pro to power it with a USB-C cable rather than Lightning. Apple has changed AirPods cases in the past without changing the model number. For instance, the AirPods Pro charging case introduced in 2019 had the model number A2190. But when this was updated in 2021 to build MagSafe compatibility into it, the model number did not change.
This suggests that when a model number changes, it indicates a substantial change, like a size or shape change. A switch from Lightning to USB-C might qualify as well.
We can’t know at this stage if this is the case for a whole new pair of earbuds or an updated case, such as with USB-C for AirPods Pro or one of the regular AirPods choices.
Just as tantalizing is trying to guess what the other reference is for: A3038. In every case, each earbud has its own model number, that is in each generation of AirPods, there are two numbers, one for the left earbud, one for the right. That…