Skip to main content

Is Amazon making headphones to compete with the Apple’s AirPods?

Amazon is about to enter the world of true wireless headphones. The tech giant is reportedly hard at work on a pair of AirPod competitors with its Alexa voice assistant onboard, according to Bloomberg.

The new headphones are being developed at Amazon’s Lab126 division, Bloomberg said, a group that is also working on a home robot for consumers. Alexa integration means that those wearing the headphones can ask for weather, change music, and even order things from Amazon, all without raising a finger. This is similar to the Siri smart assistant functionality boasted by the latest version of Apple’s AirPods, which got rid of the need to press a button to access Apple’s voice assistant software.

Unlike the AirPods, the new Amazon earbuds will apparently feature physical controls, letting you tap to pick up and end calls, as well as to switch between songs.

Amazon has had mixed success with tech hardware. Sure, the Kindle is an unqualified success, and its video streamers and smart home devices are popular — but products like the Fire Smartphone never gained steam. That’s worth noting, because though you might think entering the true wireless headphone space would be simple for such a huge tech giant, it’s actually harder than it looks. Even Google has yet to deliver a pair of wireless earbuds we actually like; the original Pixel Buds were certainly underwhelming when they came out a few years ago.

We’ve even seen longtime headphone makers like Bose and Sony falter in the true wireless space, with Apple, Jabra, Samsung, and others pouring significant research and development into their successful products in the space.

The good news is, the tech has advanced considerably since true wireless headphones were first released by Apple in late 2016, with companies like Qualcomm spending serious development dollars on better, more efficient, and more compact chips to put inside the tiny headphones.

No word on when Amazon may release the new headphones, with it reportedly facing some development delays on the product. That said, it has reportedly been looking for manufacturing and supply partners, and has historically launched new devices in the fall. Last September it released a dozen new devices, including a microwave oven. Will we see AirPod killers this year?

Editors' Recommendations

Parker Hall
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Parker Hall is a writer and musician from Portland, OR. He is a graduate of the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in Oberlin…
Apple AirPlay 2 supports 24-bit lossless audio, but you can’t use it
An Apple AirPlay icon hovering above an Apple HomePod speaker.

Apple's wireless platform for audio and video streaming -- AirPlay -- is one of the best ways to play music from an Apple device to a wireless speaker. When at home, on a Wi-Fi network, it outperforms Bluetooth thanks to its wider bandwidth. The conventional wisdom has always been that AirPlay sets a hard limit on audio quality: iPhones and other Apple devices can only transmit lossless CD-quality audio, at 16-bit/44.1kHz, to an AirPlay-enabled speaker, leaving the technology incapable of supporting the higher-res streams now being offered by Apple Music and others.  But it seems that AirPlay can actually do 24-bit audio. Sort of.

The new second-gen HomePod, which Apple released in January, can stream lossless 24-bit/48kHz audio directly from Apple Music, using its own Wi-Fi connection to the internet. This isn't news: Apple added 24-bit lossless playback (via Apple's ALAC codec) to the first-gen HomePod and HomePod mini in 2021, along with Dolby Atmos support.

Read more
Apple HomePod Mini vs. Apple HomePod
A white HomePod mini sitting on a desk.

Apple's HomePod mini is one of the most popular smart speakers of 2023 -- but the newly announced HomePod is going to give it a run for its money. While the miniature HomeKit hub can control your smart home gear and engage with Siri, the HomePod 2023 can do all of that while also pumping out some impressive audio. But does the HomePod do enough to warrant its $299 price tag? Here's a closer look at both the HomePod and HomePod mini to help you determine which is best for your smart home.
Pricing and availability

One of the most common complaints about the original HomePod (released in 2018) was that it was one of the most expensive smart speakers on the market. That’s still true, as the HomePod 2023 clocks in at $299.

Read more
The new HomePod is still too expensive, which is exactly how Apple wants it
Handoff between Apple iPhone and Apple HomePod second-gen.

Apple just announced its second-generation HomePod. And it did so without too much fanfare, via press release and just a day after it unveiled new M2 processors inside new a MacBook Pro and Mac mini. And while there maybe wasn't much fanfare, there was plenty of flourish — also in typical Apple fashion — without divulging all that many details about what's new.

There's the lower price, of course, with $50 shaved off the first-gen HomePod price. The internals have been reworked some, though whether that's to lower the overall cost, or just to make things better, remains to be seen. But It's got a new S7 processor instead of the older (and less purpose-driven) A8. It's got support for the Matter smart home standard and can listen for things like carbon monoxide alarms. And it'll still play music and do other smart home stuff.

Read more