Apple Patent Design Hints at AirPods With an Interactive Display

A newly published patent application shows how an AirPods case might work with a display built in.

Nina Raemont Writer
A recent graduate of the University of Minnesota, Nina started at CNET writing breaking news stories before shifting to covering Security Security and other government benefit programs. In her spare time, she's in her kitchen, trying a new baking recipe.
Nina Raemont
2 min read
Apple AirPods Pro 2

Imagine this AirPods case with a display on it. 

David Carnoy/CNET

Apple is tinkering with potentially designing an AirPods case with an interactive touchscreen display, according to a patent application published last week by the US Patent and Trademark Office. The case would give listeners access to applications connected to the AirPods, and users could control audio settings through the case itself. 

The AirPods maker filed the patent in 2021. In it, Apple writes that there's a need for a headphone case that can control audio operations; convey information through haptics and display devices; and optimize user interfaces, in turn improving battery life and power usage through efficient and quicker use of the AirPods. 

Headphone competitor JBL, owned by Samsung, has touted a similar design, including at this year's CES. The JBL Tour Pro 2, expected to be available sometime this spring, would be the company's newest flagship model and would include features like a touchscreen LCD to customize audio settings, comparable to what's in Apple's AirPods patent application. 

In recent years, Apple has rolled out a series of Bluetooth-connected earbuds, including the AirPods Pro 2 in 2022. "While they may not quite be perfect," CNET's David Carnoy said in his review of the AirPods Pro 2, they pack "top-notch performance in a very small design." For more, here are our rundowns of the best Apple AirPods and the best wireless earbuds from a range of manufacturers. 

It's unclear whether Apple AirPods with an interactive display will ever be more than just a design on paper.

Apple didn't immediately respond to a request for comment.