A newly published Apple patent suggests that an upcoming AirPods charging case may come with a built-in touchscreen display, which would enable users to control apps connected to the AirPods, directly from the case instead of the smartphone, tablet, or smartwatch.
The patent application number 17/948083 titled “Devices, Methods, and Graphical User Interface Interactions with a Headphones Case”, which was published by the US Patent & Trademark Office (USPTO) on March 30, 2023, was filed by Apple in September 2022.
The document, which was first spotted by Patently Apple, clearly shows the possible design of the charging case, a touchscreen display on the front side of the AirPods case that would offer media controls, including music audio output, as well as access to basic apps such as Apple Music, Apple TV+, Maps, Weather, notifications, and more.
According to the patent, users will also be able to switch between apps using Siri commands. Further, one of the diagrams shows the ability to use Handoff to transfer a song from AirPods to a HomePod.
“Audio output device cases are commonly passive devices used to charge audio output devices. 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,” reads the patent.
“There is a need for a headphone case device that can control operations that are traditionally associated with headphones (e.g., playback controls, changing audio sources, changing audio output modes, etc.). There is a further need for a headphone case that can also convey information to a user, through haptics and/or display devices. Such methods and interfaces optionally complement conventional methods for controlling wireless headphones. Such methods and interfaces reduce the number, extent, and/or nature of the inputs from a user and produce a more efficient human-machine interface.”
In one of the images in the patent filing, the headphone case contains a graphical user interface (GUI) that also provides tactile feedback (haptic), one or more processors, memory, and one or more modules, programs, or sets of guidelines stored in the memory for carrying out specific instructions usually associated with smartphones, computers, and other connected devices.
Further, tapping and swiping the screen could allow the user to control audio playback, adjust volume, favorite songs, activate Siri, and more. The Apple Pencil can also be used to interact with the touchscreen.
In another picture, Apple explains how “squeezing” the case could help users switch between audio modes easily Noise Cancellation and Transparency Mode.
The patent argues that by integrating an interactive touchscreen display in such a way, “deficiencies associated with user control of wireless headphones are reduced or eliminated.”
It’s worth noting that companies like Apple keep working on new technologies and frequently submit patents, but not all patents result in finished products. So, we will have to wait and see whether or not the redesigned AirPods charging case will see the light of day.