Apple's rumored over-ear headphones may offer switchable magnetic parts

And they could arrive this year.

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Rumors that Apple is developing its own over-ear wireless headphones have been circulating since as far back as 2018 — now fresh reports have added more fuel to the fire. As reported by Bloomberg, people “familiar with the matter” say that the tech giant is working on over-ear wireless headphones with swappable parts.

While no images of the headphones have been revealed, Bloomberg says its sources describe the prototypes as having a “retro look with oval-shaped ear cups” and a headband “connected by thin metal arms.” The ear pads and head band attach to the frame magnetically, so users will be able to swap out these elements for a customizable design. This potentially opens up the design to different applications, too. Ear pads designed for the gym might be different to those worn at home, for example.

Other features, according to those familiar with the matter, will include Siri, integrated touch controls and similar wireless-pairing and noise-cancelation tech to what’s already in Apple’s AirPods Pro. No word on pricing, although the sources have suggested the headphones will compete with the likes of Bose and Sennheiser, so we’re looking at around $350 at least. The official announcement is expected to be made at some point later this year, although the ongoing COVID-19 crisis may end up pushing things back.

If these rumors are true, the new product will represent Apple’s first own-brand foray into over-ear headphones – and it’s hardly unexpected, as the company bought Beats back in 2014. Beyond the iPhone, Apple’s wearables arm is a major growth driver for the company, and AirPods — while hugely popular — aren’t to everyone’s liking, so over-ear headphones are a natural next move for the company.