AirPods 2: 5 ways to make Apple's wireless buds better

Apple's next version of AirPods could be coming this year. Here's our wish list.

Scott Stein Editor at Large
I started with CNET reviewing laptops in 2009. Now I explore wearable tech, VR/AR, tablets, gaming and future/emerging trends in our changing world. Other obsessions include magic, immersive theater, puzzles, board games, cooking, improv and the New York Jets. My background includes an MFA in theater which I apply to thinking about immersive experiences of the future.
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  • Nearly 20 years writing about tech, and over a decade reviewing wearable tech, VR, and AR products and apps
Scott Stein
3 min read

Hi again.

James Martin/CNET

A Bloomberg report suggests a new version of Apple's wireless AirPods could be released this year, incorporating better wireless tech, improved water resistance, and improved Siri access. I've worn a pair of AirPods almost nonstop since their release, and they've become my instant, go-to earbuds for everyday use. But they could still use improvement.

Here's what's at the top of my list.

Watch this: Apple's next AirPods may be water resistant and have hands-free Siri

More remote controls

I don't know if I need to be able to instantly access Siri more often, unless the process is easy and not annoying. But I definitely want more remote features. AirPods can be double-tapped to play, pause, skip tracks or summon Siri, but you can only assign one function to each AirPod for a maximum of two functions at a time. I want expanded controls and a way to adjust the volume. Physical buttons would be nice for Bluetooth use with non-Apple products, but the odds of that happening are slim. I'd settle for the basic controls that the HomePod has.

Watch this: A few things you might not know about Apple AirPods

Wireless charging

Apple has already confirmed that its proprietary wireless charging tech is coming in 2018. AirPower will work with AirPods via a new charge case. Charging AirPods using a Lightning cable is easy enough, but it would be great to drop the case down and top it off on a charge mat, too. Will next-generation AirPods be the first to get wireless charging, or will a new case be sold separately for those of us who already have a set of AirPods? The charge case for AirPods is already one of its best features, but wireless charging would push it over the top.

Better device-swapping and wireless reliability

Apple's second-gen W2 wireless chip could help AirPods gain longer range and maybe higher fidelity, but it could also fix the little things that bug me on a daily basis. Sometimes AirPods don't connect to my Apple Watch. Sometimes the swap between watch and iPhone doesn't happen. Sometimes I'll get music drop-outs and stuttering while walking through NYC's electromagnetic jungle. Generally, they're great. In certain moments they're not.

More fit options, improved design

AirPods fit me well. But they don't fit everyone. There should be a fit kit of different earpieces, or better in-ear options for all use cases so they don't fall out. I've never had AirPods fall out randomly, but maybe a new design could allow for extra add-on tips. Third-party options exist but don't always work well with the charge case. 

Another issue: AirPods jut out of my ears. I've never looked great in them. Could those long handles be reduced a bit? I mean, I'm used to how I look in them a year and a half later, but a redesign couldn't hurt.

New colors

This is easy: Make more color options than white. Black. Green. Blue. Pink. Go crazy. Maybe let people have one color in each ear. Have a bin full of color shades, and you could pick two to make your own? But seriously: while there are ways to third-party customize beyond plain white, a few more official shades would be great.