The new functionality from Ultimate Ears essentially acts as a middle-man between you and your wireless device. Say you’re lounging around in the pool and listening to your favorite jams (the UE speakers carry an IPX7 rating meaning they’re waterproof for up to half an hour at a depth of one meter) and you want to play a different track, message a friend or better yet, order up a pizza.
Rather than having to get out of the pool and grab your smartphone, you can just push the Bluetooth button on the speaker to activate Siri or Google Now on your handset remotely. Note that you’ll need to be in the UE app for the voice assistant functionality to do its thing.
It sounds great in theory but in practice (at least, early on), it’s far from perfect.
Engadget’s Jon Turi got to try out the new functionality for a few hours and noted that while the service works, there’s plenty of room for improvement. On the UE Boom 2, Turi found a significant delay between the moment he pressed the Bluetooth button and the audible prompt to talk. What’s more, he described the prompt as whisper quiet. When the feature did work, the beginning portions of responses were occasionally clipped. Switching to the UE Megaboom seemed to rectify most of these issues although there was still the occasional clipped response, he noted.
Ultimate Ears’ Bluetooth speakers don’t come cheap. The UE Boom 2 will set you back $249.95 while the UE Megaboom commands a hearty $379.95. This is the MSRP through Ultimate Ears; you can get them for significantly cheaper through Amazon, for example, where you’ll pay as little as $178.88 or $249.99 for the Boom 2 and Megaboom, respectively.