The next Apple AirPods could have gesture-detecting cameras built-in

Apple AirPods 3
(Image credit: What Hi-Fi?)

Rumours that Apple is busy developing AirPods with built-in cameras have surfaced. 

A report from Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts that the next iteration of AirPods could arrive in 2026 with some useful IR cameras fitted. 

The IR cameras could have several uses, such as detecting in-air hand gestures to control volume or skip tracks. There’s also the possibility the cameras could be used to work with devices like the Apple Vision Pro to enhance spatial audio and interact with head movements. 

We have been anticipating the fourth generation of Apple AirPods for some time now. The third-gen AirPods earned four stars in their 2022 review and we appreciated the overall balanced, detailed sound and spatial audio support. However, we have commented on a few things we would like to see with the next version. 

A better fit (many ears just don't get on well with tip-less buds) and improved sound quality are at the top of our wishlist, but on-bud volume adjustment is also something we hope to see added. If Kuo’s findings are correct, gesture-sensitive IR cameras could be the ticket. 

Bloomberg previously published a report where they predicted that AirPods with cameras in them could come to market, so this latest report from Kuo strengthens this line of thinking further.

Apple previously dominated the wireless headphone market with its AirPods range of headphones, however, the company has seen its market share slip from over 48% in 2019 to around 21% in 2023, according to data provided by Statista. Perhaps some quality-of-life upgrades of this nature can help Apple reclaim lost ground in the coming years. 


Read the full Apple AirPods 3 review

All the rumours, predictions, and features we want to see from the AirPods 4 

Our picks for the best wireless earbuds tested by our experts

Staff Writer

Ainsley Walker is a staff writer at What Hi-Fi?. He studied music journalism at university before working in a variety of roles including as a freelance journalist and teacher. Growing up in a family of hi-fi enthusiasts naturally influenced his interest in the topic. Outside of work, Ainsley can be found producing music, tinkering with retro tech, or cheering on Luton Town.