Yesterday’s response to Google and Bose’s announcement about the new QuietComfort 35 II headphones with Google Assistant on board was lukewarm at best. Most couldn’t figure out (including us) how these were that different from any other Bluetooth headphones. Because if you own Bluetooth headphones, you can typically long-press on the call or action button that they already have to activate Google Assistant and go about your business. So how are these unique?
Googler Ian Lake took to Google+ to try and better explain it:
So if you’ve used any Bluetooth headphones before, you probably have a ‘call’ button. Long pressing on that button on recent versions of Android would trigger Google Assistant. So that’s not anything particular exciting. These headphones do a lot more than that though.
My personal favorite feature and why I prefer these headphones over all my others is the VUI (Voice UI) around reading and responding to notifications. While regular notifications will play their chime just like on normal headphones, these headphones can detect messaging notifications and will instead read the name of the person (super important context usually missing). From there, a simple tap of the button will read the notification out loud (this works with any notification!). For messaging notifications, you also get the chance to reply, directly from the headphones by holding down the button. No having to say ‘ok google’ or have it transcribe a few extra second at the end. The ‘push to talk’ model is surprisingly nice on headphones.
Even when there isn’t a notification just coming in, tapping the Google Assistant button is so much more useful. Besides bringing up any notifications you may have long since missed, I’ve also gotten Google Assistant driven suggestions like the time to leave for my next calendar appointment.
And I think something that is underrated by people who have Android devices, but these features also work when connected to iOS devices through the Google Assistant app on iOS. I wouldn’t underestimate how impactful that is for iOS users who previously haven’t had the ability to use anything but Siri on headphones.
So the big sell here is a better Voice UI that reads to you all notifications, will tell you who the person in the notification is instead of just dinging in your ear, and can playback a full notification with the press of a button. It’ll also let you directly voice-reply without the “OK, Google” command, sort of like a push-to-talk button, and even give you Assistant suggestions, like those you might see in your Google Now feed for upcoming appointments, time to leave by, etc.
While you have been able to hear those dings and launch Assistant on your old headphones, this is actually a more advanced experience that should let you leave your phone in your pocket or back at your desk more often.
That help explain the difference?
The new Bose QuietComfort 35 II headphones are now available at Best Buy.