Amazon's AirPods competitor may include fitness-tracking features

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Amazon's rival to Apple's AirPods will include fitness-tracking capabilities, a report claims, with the online retail giant's audio accessories set to be accompanied by a new audio-focused Echo that includes a woofer for better sound quality.




Rumors of an Amazon version of AirPods have been around since Apple's wireless earphones saw success at retail. Amazon's attempt was previously said to be Alexa-powered, akin to AirPods using Siri, but with a strong focus on audio fidelity, though the functionality may go further than that.

According to CNBC, the wireless earbuds are under the codename "Puget," and will include an accelerometer. The additional sensor will enable it to perform fitness tracking functionality, including recording the distance run, calories burned, and the pace of running, a person "directly involved in the project" told the report.

Neither the first nor second generation AirPods include fitness tracking capabilities, electing instead to provide audio and connectivity with an iPhone via Siri. Rumors and patents have suggested a version of AirPods could be on the way, but so far Apple has left such functionality largely to the Apple Watch.






The hardware, which would work on both iOS and Android devices, are tipped to cost $100 when they ship, undercutting other major brands of wireless earphones, including Apple's AirPods and the Beats PowerBeats Pro.

The earphones are not the only audio devices Amazon is working on. The source claimed the firm is working on a bulkier version of the Echo, which will directly compete with the Apple HomePod. Focused on sound quality, the speaker is intended be the central unit in a home, including higher quality built-in speakers and a woofer, something not included in the original Echo nor the compact Echo Dot.

Amazon's moves into the premium smart speaker market may be an expansion of its current strategy to dominate in the value and mid-tier, leaving the high-end to firms like Apple and Sonos. Meanwhile, despite not having a low-cost option, Apple is seeing HomePod success in China, a country Amazon has no real presence within with regard to Echo.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 8
    I see these these things being given away left and right. Hopefully the audio quality is as good or better than the Airpods so Apple pushes to improve their line.
  • Reply 2 of 8
    AppleExposedAppleExposed Posts: 1,805unconfirmed, member
    PLEASE don't call them something stupid like AmazePods. A bunch of knockoffs are adding a "Pods" at the end of their names.

    Here's what will happen:

    1. Front page of Amazon. ( "Anti-competitive"? )

    2. "With Alexa"

    3. Cheap or free.

    4. Will spy on users and you can order crap with them.

    Bonus:
    Every reviewer will call them the "better" "AirPods alternative". Will claim the knockoffs are better than the real thing. Apple sucks etc.
    edited September 2019 mwhitetwokatmewwatto_cobra
  • Reply 3 of 8
    PLEASE don't call them something stupid like AmazePods. A bunch of knockoffs are adding a "Pods" at the end of their names.

    Here's what will happen:

    1. Front page of Amazon. ( "Anti-competitive"? )

    2. "With Alexa"

    3. Cheap or free.

    4. Will spy on users and you can order crap with them.

    Bonus:
    Every reviewer will call them the "better" "AirPods alternative". Will claim the knockoffs are better than the real thing. Apple sucks etc.
    No thanks, never had Amazon Alexa powered gadgets at home....very satisfied w Apples products.
    GeorgeBMacwatto_cobra
  • Reply 4 of 8
    macguimacgui Posts: 2,062member
    gutengel said:
    Hopefully the audio quality is as good or better than the Airpods so Apple pushes to improve their line.
    Yep. Good competition is good for everybody.


    PLEASE don't call them something stupid like AmazePods. A bunch of knockoffs are adding a "Pods" at the end of their names.

    Here's what will happen:

    1. Front page of Amazon. ( "Anti-competitive"? )


    Every reviewer will call them the "better" "AirPods alternative". Will claim the knockoffs are better than the real thing. Apple sucks etc.
    And most of those 'reviews' will be either fake or one liners saying 'better than AirPods' with no real review supporting that statement.

    Now, I don't begrudge anybody for preferring a cheaper product if it truly makes them happy. But it's tedious to hear somebody touting a cheapie, knockoff, or counterfeit as sounding better for 1/4 the price when it just doesn't. 
    twokatmewwatto_cobra
  • Reply 5 of 8
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  • Reply 6 of 8
    dewmedewme Posts: 3,948member
    I like Amazon, but they don't have a very good track record when it comes to higher-end, sophisticated hardware devices so I'm not exactly giddy with anticipation. I have a lot of Echo devices and I can see where Amazon would really want to have a frictionless way to put Alexa in the foreground on iPhone, iPod, iPad, and Mac where "Hey Siri" is the default way into the system via voice, i.e., no explicit (and unnatural) button press is required to invoke Siri. So yeah, I see where Amazon wants a premier voice based way into Apple's devices. In other words, Amazon is probably far less interested in getting into the truly wireless headphone market than they are with putting a microphone that they control into the voice processing chain. I'm not convinced that end users are really going to be enticed into purchasing a device that is basically a strap-on way to bolt an Alexa microphone to their Apple hardware even if they get some cheaper headphones as part of the deal.

    Amazon would probably save a boatload of money and reduce landfill volume of sold-at-a-loss hardware by simply convincing Apple to allow Siri to route voice requests to Alexa. The chances of Apple allowing that to happen are pretty darn slim. Imagine saying "Hey Siri, ask Alexa to turn on my front porch light" or "Hey Siri, ask Alexa to reorder paper towels." This is the sort of capability that Jeff Bezos only dreams about. Will it ever happen? I doubt it - but you never know. Apple would still control the entry point, users would be given a more natural way to get to Alexa (wouldn't have to launch an app and press a button), and Apple would garner goodwill that may pay dividends when the antitrust regulators set their sites a little more harshly on Apple. I see a "Hey Siri, ask X" capability as a voice based API into Apple's voice processing infrastructure. I don't really have an issue with it at all. 
    edited September 2019 watto_cobra
  • Reply 7 of 8


    According to CNBC, the wireless earbuds are under the codename "Puget," and will include an accelerometer. The additional sensor will enable it to perform fitness tracking functionality, including recording the distance run, calories burned, and the pace of running, a person "directly involved in the project" told the report.


    That barely qualifies as "fitness tracking".   It's more like the old, basic FitBit pedometers because it lacks critical information such as actual distance traveled, vertical climb and heart rate.   In fact, it is similar to the technique on the Apple Watch where it will estimate your forward progress prior to the GPS catching a signal (or an older AppleWatch without GPS running in standalone mode).  

    Essentially, it is the bare minimum -- if it even reaches that level.

    But, surprisingly, they won't do the one thing they could do very well that nothing else could do:   Measure internal body temperature -- basically a tympanic thermometer.  Why would that be useful?   I saw why when I was on the Medical Team of the Pittsburgh Marathon a few years back:   One of the main things we prepared for was overheating by the racers -- and we were not disapointed!   We ended up with a dozen racers with a body temperature over 110 degrees!   I personally transported one young mom and her baby to the hospital where her husband had been taken with a temperature of 112 degrees (the ambulance couldn't take her because they had no way to secure a baby's car seat).  All the way there, she did not know if she would ever see her husband alive or not.

    So yes, using EarBuds or AirPods to determine internal temperature could, quite literally,  be a life saver for endurance athletes.  And it's something that the AppleWatch is unlikely to ever be able to do.

    (Unfortunately, I doubt we will ever see this feature as Apple focuses on mainstream exercisers rather than the hardcore athletes who are more likely to need something like this)
    ddawson100watto_cobra
  • Reply 8 of 8
    I don't think the fitness tracking features is the reason for a wireless headphone - it's more for a wearable like the watch or bracelet
    watto_cobra
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