We’re getting close to the public release of iOS 16.4 as Apple pushed out the Release Candidate for that software update to developers. Now, according to @aaronp613, the beta has references to a future AirPods model with model number A3048 and an AirPods case with model number A2968.
The standard AirPods model was last updated in October 2021, and the AirPods Pro was last refreshed last September. We have not seen any updates to the over-the-ear AirPods Max ever since they were first introduced in 2020.
There are two possibilities for what Apple could introduce. We have had reports that Apple could debut a budget-friendly AirPods model within this year or so, so the beta could reference that model. On the other hand, as Apple is planning to move its next generation of iPhones to USB-C, so it’s possible that this next model of AirPods could feature just an updated case that replaces Lightning with USB-C.
We would most likely see the public release of iOS 16.4 within the next week or so, so keep a lookout for that.