Bose Introduces HomePod Competitor With Display for $400, AirPlay 2 Support Coming in 2019

Bose today revealed the "Bose Home Speaker 500," a new smart speaker that comes with Amazon Alexa built into the device and support for Bluetooth music streaming from iOS and Android smartphones. The Wi-Fi enabled speaker has many of the same features as competitor devices like HomePod and Sonos One, including music streaming, smart home automation, smart assistant inquiries, multi-room music syncing, and more.

In "early 2019," Bose says that it will introduce support for AirPlay 2 in the Bose Home Speaker 500, as well as in a pair of smart soundbars also announced today, the Bose Soundbar 500 and Bose Soundbar 700. For the Bose Home Speaker 500, the device includes an eight-microphone array for near-field and far-field voice pickup -- all when it's both silent and noisy from currently playing music.


For music playback, users will be able to play Spotify or Amazon Music directly from the Bose Home Speaker 500 when it's connected to a home Wi-Fi network. Buttons on the top of the speaker will also allow customers to set up to six different presets for playlists, Internet radio stations, and more. Of course, with Bluetooth any audio can also be streamed from a smartphone or tablet.

The company says the Home Speaker 500 has "the widest soundstage of any smart speaker available today," and is encased in an anodized aluminum shell that measures 8" high by 6" wide by 4" deep. Two custom drivers pointed in opposite directions ensure that sound reflects off surrounding walls to separate instruments and "place vocals where the artist did," all without "artificial effects or distortion."
“Voice-controlled speakers aren’t new, and there are plenty of great options to choose from. But we had a different vision for ours, inspired by what we could uniquely do to make the experience better,” said Doug Cunningham, category manager in the Bose Consumer Electronics Division.

“All of our new smart speakers double up on functionality. It takes just one Home Speaker 500 to deliver true stereo separation — there’s no need to pair two. Our Soundbar 700 and 500 are thin and discreet with jaw-dropping surround sound — whether you’re streaming Spotify or watching a movie. They combine Bluetooth and Wi-Fi for unbeatable ease of use, can be mixed and matched to play in sync or separately, and with new Alexa functionality and more VPAs on the way, they’ll only get better over time.”
Notably, Bose's smart speaker includes a front-facing display, but it doesn't appear to be a touchscreen. In the announcement, Bose says that, "when touch control is preferred ... there are buttons for basic functionality located right on the top," allowing users to skip track, adjust volume, and more. In the owner's guide, Bose says, "The speaker display shows speaker information and icons as well as the streaming service, album and artist currently playing."


To compare, the HomePod has a 6 microphone array that allows the speaker to hear spoken Siri commands even when loud music is playing. HomePod measures in at 6.8 inches tall and 5.6 inches wide, so Bose's option is also slightly larger. Compared to the Bose Home Speaker 500's aluminum, Apple went for a mesh fabric webbing around the HomePod, and it only has a small 272 x 340 LED display at the top to display Siri's waveform when commands are invoked.

The Bose Home Speaker 500 will launch in October for $399.95, which is about $50 more than HomePod's $349.99 retail price and $100 more than recent discounts for Apple's speaker. The Bose Soundbar 500 and 700 will cost $549.95 and $799.95, respectively, and also launch in October at Bose retail stores, Bose.com, and at authorized Bose dealers.

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Bose QuietComfort 35 II Headphones Gain Alexa Support via Software Update

Bose has released an update for its QuietComfort 35 II wireless headphones that adds Alexa support as a voice assistant feature.

Previously, the "Action" button on the popular noise-canceling cans was exclusively for invoking Google Assistant (Siri is accessed by holding down the multifunction play/pause button for two seconds).


However, after updating the software through the Bose Connect app, QC35 II owners can now opt to use Amazon's ubiquitous virtual assistant instead via the app's Options menu.

For those wondering, voice assistant support is the main difference between the Bose QC 35 Series II headphones and the original Quiet Comfort 35 Series I (reviewed here), although the later model does let you use the noise canceling feature in wired as well as wireless mode.

So if voice assistant support doesn't interest you and you're looking to go wireless, the Series I cans are definitely still worth a punt if you can find them online – and you just might save yourself a few dollars in the process.

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Apple Begins Selling Bose SoundLink Micro Bluetooth Speaker Online and In Stores

Apple recently added a new Bluetooth speaker to its retail and online stores, called the "SoundLink Micro" and created by Bose. Spotted by Japanese blog Mac Otakara [Google Translate], the $109.95 speaker seems to have appeared on Apple's website around October 11, and has subsequently launched in some retail stores as well.

The SoundLink Micro is designed for durability and comes with an IPX7 waterproof rating, equivalent to the Apple Watch's rating and ability to withstand submersion up to 1 meter for up to 30 minutes. The speaker's durability can resist dents, cracks, and scratches, and the package also includes a tear-resistant strap to attach to a backpack or cooler.


In terms of music playback, the speaker can last up to six hours, and if you have two of them they can be paired together for stereo or "Party Mode" playback. When synced to an iPhone, the SoundLink Micro supports access to Siri and lets you take calls right from the speaker. Bose's speaker measures at 3.87 inches tall by 3.87 inches wide, and includes a Micro USB charging cable.

Two-day shipping is available as of writing for the SoundLink Micro, and it appears that the device has already arrived at most Apple retail stores. For the locations that don't have stock today, many list availability dates later this week, around October 18. Visit Apple.com to check out more information on the speaker, which also comes in Orange, Black, and Blue color options.

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Bose Announces $250 ‘SoundSport Free’ Wireless Headphones Launching in October

Bose today announced its first-ever pair of wireless in-ear headphones called "SoundSport Free," which will go on sale in October for $250. Similar to Apple's AirPods and other wireless headphones, the SoundSport Free are small buds that you place in your ears without any connecting wires, and which charge through an included case while you're on-the-go (via CNET).


Bose's wireless headphones are more sport- and activity-focused, with silicone StayHear+ sport tips to ensure a comfortable fit during intense activities, as well as an IPX4 water resistance rating (Apple's AirPods are not rated for water resistance, although many users have noted their resilience through activities that coat them in sweat or water). The Bose Connect iOS app will also include a new "Find My Buds" feature, displaying the last known location and time of use in order to help you rediscover the lost headphones.

In terms of battery life, Bose said that the SoundSport Free will last for up to five hours on one charge, and the charging/carrying case can fuel up the headphones with an additional ten hours of battery. The five-hour battery life aligns with the AirPods in terms of battery on the buds themselves, but when comparing the charging cases Apple's case provides an additional 24 hours of life to the AirPods.


Controls are located on the top of the buds, giving you access to play, pause, skip track, take and end phone call controls, and even activate Siri or Google Assistant. Bose also explained that the SoundSport Free headphones include a Bluetooth antenna that is designed to provide a strong and reliable connection to your iPhone, which connects to the smartphone up to 30 feet away as long as there are no physical obstructions between the two devices.
When it came to the tech inside these earbuds, we focused on every little detail—from tuning the circuits for improved sound to tweaking the antenna position for maximum Bluetooth® signal strength. The result? Headphones that play consistently and clearly whether your phone is in your hand, in your pocket, strapped to your arm or sitting on top of the treadmill … and there’s never a wire in sight.
The SoundSport Free headphones are available to pre-order for $249.95 today on Bose's website with early orders expected for an October delivery date, and a "Midnight Blue" color option is said to be coming later this year. The company today also announced a new version of its QC35 over-ear headphones - called QC35 II -- incorporating Google Assistant directly into the device.

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