Apple’s next earbuds may be semi-modular and wireless

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Apple’s earbuds are already pretty awesome for the price, but the company has been awarded a patent that might take the earbuds to a new level of awesomeness. Granted on Tuesday, the patent is for next-generation EarPods that can connect to Apple devices wirelessly, or users can connect a magnetic wire to the earbuds and plug them into the device directly, meaning they offer the best of both worlds. It’s unlikely that these magnetic earbuds will ship with the next iPhone, but it does give us an idea of Apple’s plans for the future.

Apple has been granted a patent for new EarPod headphones, which could hint at what’s going to ship with the new iPhone 7. The new patent, granted on Tuesday, is for headphones that connect to an iPhone both wirelessly and with a wire. They can be used without being plugged in, but have a connector that lets you magnetically attach a cord to the earbuds and plug the other end into a jack. The EarPod design follows rumors that the iPhone 7 could ship without a headphone jack. Many people assumed that Apple would design new EarPods that would wirelessly connect to iPhones using Bluetooth. Some believe they will connect to the iPhone’s Lightning port. But headphone jacks aren’t going away everywhere. Not every music-playing device has Bluetooth. So Apple has patented a unique concept: hybrid, detachable headphones. They’re wireless when you want them to be and they have a wire when you need one. Apple’s patent likely isn’t exactly what will ship with the iPhone 7. The patent shows a set of headphones that require a cord to be plugged into a headphone jack — that cord can be separated from the earbuds and wirelessly transmit the signal to the detached headphones.

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