Smart headphone manufacturer Bragi has announced that it’s bringing Amazon’s Alexa assistant to its Dash earbuds. It’s the first time that the app has been integrated into headphones, and makes the Dash a direct competitor to Apple’s Airpods.
The Alexa smart assistant has previously been confined to the home, allowing users to control smart home devices such as light bulbs or order online shopping with voice commands. Making Alexa available while out and about opens up some interesting new possibilities, including ordering taxis with Uber and ordering your morning coffee ahead of time just by speaking aloud.
Similar to the way that the Apple Airpods interact with the Siri assistant, Bragi Dash users will also be able to ask Alexa to read them the latest news bulletins, play music from supported streaming services and make adjustments to their diary. Users will be able to add Alexa to their headphones by downloading a free software update due to be released in October. Unlike Apple’s Siri assistant, Alexa is compatible with both iPhones and Android devices.
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What is the Bragi Dash?
The Bragi Dash is a pair of smart wireless headphones. They are one of a growing class of headphones often classed as ‘hearables’, so named because of their similar features to other wearable technology such as smartwatches and fitness trackers. The Dash comes with full fitness tracking features – you can even use them while swimming, if you’re brave enough.
Movement sensors allow you to control them using gestures such as a shake or nod of the head, and on-board memory means that you aren’t forced into connecting them to a smartphone if you want to listen to music. Crucially for this Alexa update, they also include a microphone so you can control them with your voice too.
The Dash headphones were already somewhat compatible with Apple’s Siri and Google’s Assistant, but Alexa opens the door to a wider range of possible uses. Bragi’s announcement coincides with the IFA 2017 trade show, where some of the biggest audio manufacturers have been showcasing their latest products.
New earphone models from Sennheiser
Sennheiser has revealed three new pairs of in-ear headphones at IFA. The Momentum Free headphones are very similar to the Momentum In-ear Wireless model that we reviewed earlier this year. Instead of the relatively weighty neckband in the older model, the newer pair have a much lighter-looking cable. Battery life has taken a hit, down to a claimed six hours from 10 previously, but the added portability could make up for it.
Even more similar to the older Momentum In-ear Wireless is the new CX 7.00BT pair. This keeps the neckband design and the 10-hour battery life, and also promises fast charging and NFC connection so you can pair with your smartphone with a single tap. The final in-ear pair unveiled by Sennheiser is the IE80 S, which focuses on sound quality rather than wireless convenience. Interchangeable cables and high-quality foam ear tips should make them sound better than entry-level models.
B&O unveils first wireless in-ear pair
High-end Danish audio brand B&O has joined in with the trend for releasing completely wireless earbuds. Like almost all models of this type, including the Bragi Dash, the Beoplay E8 earbuds come with a case that doubles as a charger.
Their small size means that alone they can only manage a few hours of playtime. By replacing them in the case between uses you can charge them from empty twice, giving a total theoretical battery life of 12 hours.
The E8s are splash and dust-resistant, although they’re not classed as fully waterproof. They also have a ‘sound transparency’ mode that allows you to pipe external noise into your ears when you want it – handy if you’re crossing a road or trying to hear an announcement on the train. Like other B&O products they won’t be cheap: at £259 they cost £100 more than the Apple Airpods.
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