Something to look forward to: Apple and Amazon already compete against each other in several areas, and they’ll reportedly be battling it out in another product category later this year: truly wireless earbuds. The retail giant is said to be developing a pair of AirPod competitors that will feature built-in Alexa access.
Bloomberg reports that the earbuds are being developed at Amazon’s Lab126 hardware division, which was responsible for the company’s Kindle, Echo, and Fire Phone devices. The team is also working on a home robot code-named Vesta.
As one might imagine, Amazon’s earbuds are expected to be similar to the AirPods, though the company hopes its product will have better audio quality—an area where Apple’s devices fail to excel. As is the case with its Echo smart speakers, users can active Amazon’s virtual assistant by saying “Alexa,” much like the “Hey Siri” functionality built into the latest version of the AirPods.
Thanks to the Alexa integration, users will be able to order goods, access music, weather, and other information on the go, just by using their voice. The earbuds won’t have built-in LTE, though, which means they’ll need to be linked to a smartphone if you want to use Alexa. That will entail Amazon working with Google and Apple, which could cause issues.
Other details about Amazon’s earbuds are sparse, but the report says they’ll come with a storage case that can also be used for recharging, will offer gesture controls for functions such as taking calls and moving between songs, and will sit inside the ear rather than using clips. No word on price but expect them to be cheaper than Apple’s $159 - $199 AirPods.
We could see Amazon’s earbuds unveiled at a hardware event in September. It remains to be seen whether they can challenge Apple’s dominance in this space or become another Fire Phone.