Alexa-Powered Wireless Earbuds in the Works to Rival AirPods

Anil Ganti

At this point, Amazon has a stake in just about everything. So it comes as no surprise that the company is reportedly working on a pair of Alexa-powered earbuds to rival Apple's AirPods. The product may be released as early as the second half of this year, according to Bloomberg. The yet-to-be-named headphones will even look and feel like AirPods. It will let people use their voice to order goods, access music, weather and other information on the go by invoking Alexa. There will also be physical gesture controls, such as tapping to pick up and end calls and switch between songs and the likes.

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Just like AirPods, the earbuds will come in a storage case that doubles up as a charger. Users will be able to plug it in over a standard USB cable. However, they won’t have built-in cellular connectivity and will require pairing with a phone. The headphones will be available in black and grey colours, according to people associated with the project. We don't know anything about the pricing just yet but considering that Amazon sells its products at a lower rate. It will very likely sell for less than AirPods, which start at $159. Apple recently released second-generation AirPods that offered faster connectivity to devices, Hey Siri support, and wireless charging.

The new earbuds are considered one of the most important projects at Amazon's Lab126 hardware division, and Amazon is now seeking suppliers and manufacturing partners. Apple sold 12.5 million worth of AirPods in the fourth quarter of 2018. AirPods have generated $17.4 billion in revenue in the most recent fiscal year. The wireless earbud market is a hotly contested one, with Google's Pixel Buds, Samsung's Galaxy Buds and a host of third-party products looking to grab a piece of the pie. Google's Pixel buds looked promising thanks to features such as real-time translation via the Google Assistant and Translate, but fell flat in the face of competition.


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