Apple may be looking to remove the digital crown from the AirPods Max in favor of touch controls. The source of this tidbit is a patent filed by the company with the USPTO which talks about processing gestures on a touch-sensitive surface.
For those who love the physical feedback offered by the crown on the $549 AirPods, this may seem like a vague ‘threat’ at first glance. But the accompanying figure posted by Patently Apple shows this tech is most likely to be used on the AirPods Max, or at least on a pair of over-ear headphones that looks similar.
When the AirPods Max was unveiled complete with the digital crown plucked from the Apple Watch, most folks welcomed it with open arms. Apart from letting you control the volume levels easily, the rotating button can be used to summon Siri, answer or reject calls, and play, pause or skip tracks.
Now it looks like Apple might be taking the AirPods Max in the direction of the in-ear AirPods by ditching the crown for touch controls. Previously, the company was granted patents for touch gestures on fabric as well as touch input on the exterior of ear cups. The newly uncovered patent elaborates on more complex and refined touch controls for the device.
There’s faint hope that Apple might hang on to the digital crown in spite of adding touch controls. But there’s actually very little reason for the company to do so in terms of production costs and technical difficulties that might arise out of combining the two.
It’ll probably be good enough for most buyers if Apple reduces the weight of the AirPods Max while adding a power button and wireless support for lossless audio in the new iteration.
Lastly, there were rumors of a cheaper variant of the device some time ago, but we’ve heard nothing new about it lately.