The new Bose QC 35 II shut the world out to let Google’s Assistant in

Bose QC 35 II
Bose’s most popular noise-canceling headphones just gained sentience — or at the very least, an AI-powered voice assistant. On Thursday, Google and Bose announced the Quiet Comfort 35 II (Bose QC 35 II), a tweak of the existing QuietComfort 35 with Google’s Siri-like virtual assistant for phones, wireless speakers, and smartwatches onboard.

From the outside, not much has changed. Bose says the QC 35 II have the same drivers, noise cancellation technology, and battery life (up to 20 hours) as the QC 35, and even the same volume and multi-function controls. But a conspicuous new Action button on the left ear cup adds one-tap access to the Assistant.

“We’ve worked together with Bose to create a great Assistant experience on the Bose QC 35 II—whether you’re on a crowded street or squished on a bus,” Tomer Amarilio, product manager for the Google Assistant, wrote in a blog post. “Bose’s active noise cancellation will help eliminate unwanted sounds around you, so you’re able to hear your Assistant, your music and more.”

bose

Starting today, connecting a pair of QC 35 II headphones to an iOS or Android smartphone and launching the Google app will prompt you to activate the Google Assistant. From that point on, you’ll be able to launch the Assistant by pressing and holding the QC 35 II’s Action button as long as it’s paired to your phone via Bluetooth. (Google says the Assistant relies heavily on the phone for processing and network connectivity, and that local processing on the headphones is limited to features like voice input and notifications.)

If you’ve used the Google Assistant before, you’ll notice that it’s a bit more verbose than usual on the Bose QC 35 II. When you get an incoming call, message, calendar event, or other notification, it’ll briefly interrupt your music with an audible ping and read the newest text aloud for you. And the enhanced interactivity goes both ways: With a voice command, you can get a read-out of breaking news from sources like CNBC, CNN, and NPR (try saying, “Play the news”), place a phone call to a favorite contact (“Call Dad”), or control the playback of your audio (“Skip a track,” “Go to a new song,” “Access a playlist”).

The Bose QC 35 II are available for $350 in black and silver, and the Google Assistant feature works in countries where it’s available. (In other markets, the Action button will control the headphone’s noise-cancelling settings.) If Bose’s headphones don’t float your boat, though, not to worry, Google says the QC 35 II are only the first headphones “optimized for the Assistant” of more to come.

Product Review

AKG's signature studio sound goes straight to your head with these stunning cans

With gorgeous looks and great sound, AKG’s N700NC are a formidable entry into the wireless noise-canceling headphone race. We put them to the test to see if they can beat out the absolute best in the business.
Home Theater

Block the outside world, tune into your own with the best in-ear headphones

Over-the-ear headphones offer top-flight sound, but they're not so easy to take along with you. If you're looking to upgrade your portable sound, check out our favorite in-ear headphones -- there's a model for every user and every budget.
Smart Home

How to talk to Santa on Alexa and Google Assistant

Nothing say "holiday" like talking to Santa. Here's how to talk to Santa on Alexa and Google Assistant, whether he's helping you create a playlist or checking to see if you've been naughty or nice this week.
Home Theater

Wireless headphones are finally awesome, and these are our favorites

Between sleek form factors, prime audio quality, and the freedom of untethered listening, there has never been a better time to pick up a pair of wireless headphones. These are the best ones currently available.
Home Theater

Phiaton’s active lifestyle headphones do noise canceling on a budget

Looking for a set of active noise-canceling earbuds that can keep up with your active lifestyle, without breaking the bank? Phiaton's new Curve BT 120 NC could be just the ticket.
Home Theater

5 sonic stocking stuffers to improve your loved ones’ listening life

Looking for some simple and affordable gifts to get the music nerd in your family? Here are five great gift ideas that will improve their listening life -- and won't cost you an arm and a leg to give them.
Home Theater

Streaming services blast past networks for the most scripted TV shows in 2018

For the first time in history, streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon, produced more original scripted series than broadcast or cable channels, setting a new record for the number of TV shows on the air.
Home Theater

Set your ears free with the best completely wireless earbuds

If you can't stand the tangle of cords, or you're just excited about completely wireless earbuds, you're going to need some help separating the wheat from the chaff. Our list serves up the best true wireless earbuds around.
Home Theater

From the Roku Ultra to the Fire TV Cube, these are the best streaming devices

There are more options for media streamers than ever, so it’s more difficult to pick the best option. But that’s why we're here. Our curated list of the best streaming devices will get you online in no time.
Home Theater

These awesome A/V receivers will swarm you with surround sound at any budget

There is no one-size-fits-all approach to shopping for a receiver, so we assembled our favorites for 2018, at multiple price points and all loaded with features, from Dolby Atmos to 4K HDR, and much more.
Movies & TV

Celebrate the 25th anniversary of ‘The X-Files’ with the show’s 10 best episodes

The X-Files premiered 25 years ago, so here are the 10 best episodes of the award-winning sci-fi series. From alien-abduction drama to hilarious satires, these are the best episodes from all 11 seasons of the hit series.
Movies & TV

Can't get enough lightsaber action? Here's how to get your Star Wars fix online

Few of us want to deal with DVDs or Blu-ray discs anymore. Unfortunately, the Star Wars movies are few and far between when it comes to streaming. If you want to watch Star Wars online, check out our guide on where to find the films online.
Home Theater

Netflix vs. Hulu vs. Amazon Prime: Battle of the streaming giants

Trying to figure out which subscription streaming service to use while sticking to a frugal entertainment budget? Check out our updated comparison of the big three: Netflix, Amazon Instant Video, and Hulu.
Home Theater

How to master your equalizer settings for the perfect sound

You may know what an EQ is, but do you know how to adjust equalizer settings for the best possible sound? We go through the basics of the modern EQ and lay out some guidelines for how to achieve tip-top sound from your system.