Apple announced the third generation of its popular AirPod headphones and a new subscription option for its streaming service at today’s (Oct. 18) virtual “Unleashed” event.
Apple Music’s new subscription option is geared for people who only want to access music using Siri, Apple’s voice assistant. Apple has improved Siri’s integration with its streaming vehicle, now allowing users to request music by mood — think music for hiking, cooking, relaxing or for a dinner party — and it has built a suite of playlists to accommodate those activities.
The new plan will compete against the low-cost option from Amazon Music, which offers users a $4 a month plan exclusively for its Echo speaker devices. The Apple Music Voice Plan will be available later this fall in 17 countries, including the U.S., U.K., Canada, China, Germany, France, and Australia.
Also announced at the event, the tech giant’s AirPods have been redesigned to look more like its $250 AirPod Pros, while borrowing some features from the more expensive headphones including Apple’s Adaptive EQ, and bringing sweat and water-resistance to the cheaper device. Apple has included a force sensor to make it easier to play and pause music, and it has added a new low distortion driver to the AirPods, which it says will help improve bass and high frequencies.
The third-generation headphones are on sale today for $179 and will ship next week.
Apple has had enormous success with its AirPod line, all but ushering in the era of wireless headphones for the masses. Apple sold nearly 60 million AirPods in 2019, according to Strategy Analytics, enough to claim over 50% of the wireless headphone market and 71% of the revenue share for the industry. And that number was expected to surpass 100 million units in 2020, according to Counterpoint Research, which would make the AirPods business worth over $15 billion for the company. Apple has never released sales figures for AirPods.