Apple could get rid of the Digital Crown used to control playback on its first generation AirPods Max headphones in favour of touch controls.
According to a report by PatentlyApple, the US Patent & Trademark Office has published a patent suggesting that Apple is working on a touch-sensitive surface designed for processing gestures on the AirPods Max’ successor, the AirPods Max 2.
If Apple follows through with this patent, we could see the over-ear AirPods switch out their Digital Crown for more a more standard-looking set of touch controls.
The Digital Crown is certainly one of the more unique features on the AirPods Max (along with the headphones’ design in general).
The small metal crown – which looks like its been taken straight from the Apple Watch – sits on top of one of the ear cups and is used to play, pause, skip, go back a track, adjust the volume and call upon Siri for voice assistance, depending on whether you press, turn or hold the button.
According to an interview Apple did with Japanese publication Casa BRUTUS when the AirPods Max were announced, the company originally trialled using touch controls on the AirPods Max, but ended up introducing the Digital Crown design at launch (via 9to5Mac).
We actually liked the Digital Crown here at Trusted Reviews, with Max Parker praising the feature in our review of the original AirPods Max:
“On the top of the right earcup there’s a larger version of the Apple Watch’s Digital Crown. Twisting this raises or lowers the volume, while pressing down play/pauses and moves through tracks. It works tremendously well, and I always value that physical, precise feedback over trying to get my gestures to register”.
That said, it wouldn’t be unusual to see touch gestures on a premium pair of headphones, so we wouldn’t be surprised if Apple does choose to introduce them on the AirPods Max 2.
However, this is only a patent, which means nothing is set in stone just yet. We’ll have to wait and see whether Apple chooses to take its headphones in this direction when the AirPods Max 2 officially launch.