The new Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones have shown up in some Best Buy stores but apparently you cannot purchase them until September 22nd. A more interesting angle here is that they have the feature claim of “Google Assistant built in” and the accompanying Google Assistant logo. This may be the first wireless head phone with full Google Assistant support. The Bragi Dash Pro wireless ear buds list Google Now support, but that is not a full Google Assistant implementation. Jeremy Judkins appears to be the first to record spotting the new item in stores.
Look what I found early …. Bose QC 35 II pic.twitter.com/vq2zXDDb2A
— Jeremy Judkins (@jeremyjudkins) September 16, 2017
Abner Li of 9to5Google which had an early exclusive on the QuietComfort 35 II release was also able to find a pair of the headphones in the wild at a Best Buy, but was not allowed to make a purchase. The cost is expected to be $349.99.
The Voice Assistant Battle for the Near Field
Smart speakers have dominated the voice assistant discussions over the past year driven by interest in Amazon Echo and Google Home. This has recently become even more of a focus due to newly announced offerings from Harman Kardon, JBL, Pioneer, Sonos and others that plan to incorporate Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant, Microsoft Cortana or some combination of the three. Smart speakers are about placing voice interactive computing in the places we inhabit. This is about having fixed microphones and speakers nearby, but not on our person. Since you interact with smarts speakers at a distance, the audio world thinks of these as far field devices .
The near field is what is within inches or centimeters of us. Mobile device microphones are optimized for the near field and the Apple AirPods introduced us to what is possible with great wireless ear buds with near field connectivity to a voice assistant. This may be the key advantage that Apple has for its Siri voice assistant today. The Bose QuietComfort product line is over the ear noise cancelation headphones and not earbuds so may not lead to all day use like the AirPods. However, they get Google Assistant into a very important product category. Maybe even more important, it is a product category where Google may be taking a slight lead over Amazon’s Alexa.