Apple Envisions AirPods Case with Interactive Touchscreen Display for Improved User Control

AirPods Pro Case concept | Touch screen control | Image: MacRumors

According to a recently published patent, Apple is exploring the possibility of adding a built-in touchscreen display to its AirPods case, which would enable users to control audio sources and interact with apps associated with the connected device.

The patent (via PatentlyApple), titled “Devices, Methods, and Graphical User Interface Interactions with a Headphones Case”, was filed by Apple in September 2021 and was published last week by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The patent provides detailed depictions of various embodiments for such a design, complete with images of AirPods and a touchscreen on the case’s front.

The patent states that “the utility of a headphone case can be enhanced, and user control over a user’s wireless headphones can be improved, by configuring a headphone case with an interactive user interface to enable user control of operations associated with the wireless headphones.”

The patent goes on to describe the need for a headphone case device that can control operations that are traditionally associated with headphones, such as playback controls, changing audio sources, changing audio output modes, and more.

In one embodiment, Apple envisions controlling Apple Music via the case through the use of a capacitive touchscreen with a GUI that also provides tactile feedback, allowing the user to control audio playback, adjust volume, favorite songs, and interact with their music in other ways without necessarily looking at the case to do so.

In another embodiment, the case responds to specific gestures such as taps and swipes to navigate onscreen content and invoke Siri. Apple suggests that the case could include additional processors and memory modules that would allow it to carry out specific instructions traditionally associated with smartphones, computers, and other connected devices. For instance, some embodiments show the case’s touchscreen providing interactive access to iPhone apps including Phone, Mail, Messages, Camera, Calendar, Weather, Maps, and more.

While it is unclear whether or not this technology will make it to market anytime soon, the patent application does offer an interesting glimpse into how Apple is exploring ways to make an AirPods case more functional and user-friendly. Since the first AirPods launched in 2016, Apple has worked to enhance the functionality of the AirPods Case for different models.

The AirPods Pro case, in particular, has benefited from the addition of MagSafe wireless charging, a U1 Ultra Wideband chip that supports precision tracking with Find My, a lanyard loop, a built-in speaker for locating and status updates, and increased battery life.

The addition of a touchscreen display to the AirPods case could represent a significant step forward in the functionality and user experience of these popular wireless earbuds. Whether or not this technology becomes a reality, one thing is certain – Apple is committed to pushing the boundaries of what is possible with its innovative designs and cutting-edge technology.

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