The headphone jack is dead and hearables are going to feel the benefit. 66 Audio is the latest company to get in on the action, unveiling its Pro Voice headphones that integrate Amazon's Alexa voice assistant.
We've seen a few headphones offer a line to Alexa, but the Pro Voice are the first to offer automatic voice detection, so you won't have to touch the headset at all. As I made the case for in my recent Charged Up column, assistants can be a really good fit in the ears, but it needs to be smooth - I'm talking slicker-than-a-snake-covered-in-baby-oil good - something 66 Audio is promising to deliver.
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The headphones use what 66 Audio calls its ActiveVoice recognition tech for high-quality voice detection and audio clarity when taking calls. Meanwhile the MotionControl smartphone app works as a half-way house between the headphones and Alexa and will support most of the assistant's features. Sadly you can't tell Alexa to make calls like you can on the Echo.
To sweeten the deal 66 Audio is throwing in three months of Amazon Music Unlimited for $0.99 as a trial. Alexa can also pull up tunes from iHeartRadio, Pandora and TuneIn - with Spotify support on the way.
It doesn't sound like Alexa will be compromising audio quality either. The headphones include 36mm stereo drivers and 66 Audio's proprietary "66 SoundEngine" tech with Qualcomm aptX and AAC codec support.
Alexa has proven itself most useful in the house, but more and more the assistant is breaking free. If 66 Audio has built a compelling Alexa experience for on the go, we might be inclined to get more friendly with Amazon's AI.
The Alexa-powered headphones are available from today for $139.99 and should be popping up on Amazon and Amazon Launchpad.