Apple’s March 31 event might bring over-ear AirPods, Apple TV refresh… and an iPod touch?

Get ready for new hardware and some surprises.

Credit: Apple

While last year’s annual spring Apple event was entirely devoted to services, this year’s show appears to be shaping up to bring a torrent of new hardware. We already knew about the new budget successor to the iPhone SE (which may be called the iPhone 9) and an iPad Pro refresh, but this weekend brought a flurry of rumors that suggest Apple has much more hiding up its sleeve.

There’s no denying that the AirPods and AirPods Pro are runaway hits, so it only makes sense that Apple would want to build on their success. We’ve heard rumors for a while that Apple is working on a pair of noise-canceling over-ear headphones, but a cryptic Target listing spotted by Target employees suggests they might be on the way sooner than later.

As reported by John Prosser on Twitter, three new SKUs have popped up in Target’s internal product database for identical Apple AirPods (X Generation),” with a price tag of $399. That price point indicates that these are very high-end cans, on par with the Beats Studio 3 ($349), Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones 700 ($400), and Sony’s WH-1000XM3 ($350) and geared toward audiophiles. Rumors have suggested that  they will have noise-canceling, easy setup, and Siri support, as presumably a wireless charging case as well.

The same Target database also lists Apple TV Gen X, the first time we’ve heard that a new streaming box could be on the way. The conspicuous lack of rumors suggests that it’s a mere refresh of the existing line, as does the $179 price, but the Apple TV is definitely overdue for a speed bump. We’d love it if this brought remote-free Siri capabilities, but we’re not holding our breath.

Oddly enough, Target also lists a new iPod Touch X Generation as well at $399. That’s the current price for the 256GB iPod Touch, and quite frankly we’d be very surprised to see a new model make its way onto shelves so soon after the last refresh, which arrived in May 2019. Instead, we’re thinking that this is a bit of misdirection on Apple’s part and a placeholder for the iPhone 9 or SE 2. Think about it: iPhone 9, iPhone Gen X, iPhone SE Gen X would all raise some serious suspicion, but a new iPod touch not so much.

Also on the docket may be an iPad Pro with an iPhone 11-style camera. A leak tweeted out by Ben Geskin shows a square camera array on an iPad Pro case, which suggests Apple’s tablet could finally be picking up a serious camera. Rumor has it that the extra lenses won’t just be for taking pictures, however. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo previously reported that the iPad Pro would be gaining a time-of-flight camera for advanced AR capabilities that would let users take 3D scans of real-world objects and edit them with the Apple Pencil.

It’s unclear whether Apple would be releasing its own CAD software or partnering with Sharpr 3D or some other third-party developer. It’s notable that Adobe does not yet make a version of its Dimension 3D rendering app for the iPad either.

So start counting down the days to March 31, the expected date of Apple’s next event. And start saving up your pennies too.

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Michael Simon

Michael Simon

Macworld.com
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