Apple considering AirPod charging case with Bluetooth speaker

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Bluetooth in iOS 11
The AirPod charging case will do so much more, if a new Apple patent turns into a real product.
Photo: Cult of Mac

The case for your Apple wireless earbuds is necessary to charge them, but it’s useless the rest of the time. But what if this AirPod charging case was itself a speaker?

That’s the concept behind a patent Apple just received. Whether it will turn into an actual product is anyone’s guess.

The description filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office lays out the idea. “A case for a wireless electronic listening device (e.g., a pair of wireless earbuds) is configured to house a pair of wireless earbuds and charge the earbuds when they are in the case. The case is further configured to receive media received by the wireless earbuds and transmit the media to a non-wireless output device connected to the case.” 

Companies frequently get patents for ideas they never really plan to turn into products. They are often “just in case” things. But an AirPod charging case that’s also a wireless speaker seems like it would be a popular offering. 

Especially as it would allow the user to continue to listen to music while  the AirPods are charging.

AirPod charging case with speaker
The USPTO filing shows Apple’s concept for an AirPod charging case with built-in speaker.
Photo: Apple

Bigger role for the AirPod charging case 

Apple is also considering adding far more functionality to the case beyond just charging. The patent it just received today describes Bluetooth pairing the AirPods with the case (in addition to an iPhone) so music can be streamed from the charging case. The case would get its audio from a wired connection.  

As the patent filing says, in the typically stilted manner of such documents: “The case may further include its own wireless radio that can wirelessly communicate audio to the wireless earbuds when the earbuds are not in the case. The case may further include an input port to receive an audio signal from a non-wireless source and may be configured to wirelessly transmit the audio received from the source to the wireless earbuds.”

This would be practical because AirPods can be paired with multiple device simultaneouslys. When connected to any Apple phone, tablet, or laptop, they’ll pair themselves every other device with the same Apple ID.

After launching the first-generation AirPod in 2016, Apple has yet to update them. That will apparently change soon, with new features supposedly on the docket, including “Hey Siri” support. Perhaps an upgraded charging case is coming too.