Apple’s New Wireless Powerbeats Pro Offer ‘Hey Siri’ Functionality
Yesterday Apple launched the Powerbeats Pro wireless earphones, which include hands-free invocation of Siri, by saying “Hey Siri.” The Powerbeats Pro are designed to be worn around the ear to accommodate a user in motion and also feature sweat and water resistance materials. The same H1 chip that is used in AirPods is included in the Powerbeats Pro, allowing the earphones to pair by opening up the carrying case and support vocal invocations for Siri. The Powerbeats Pro are $249.95, will begin shipping in May, and are offered in 4 different colors: Black, Ivory, Moss, and Navy. Here is the list of countries they can be shipped to, more countries and regions will be made available throughout the rest of the year:
- Hong Kong
- New Zealand
- Puerto Rico
- United Kingdom
Powerbeats Pro Specs
Both earbuds have identical physical buttons for volume and track controls, and while there is no power button the earbuds do contain motion sensors that automatically put them into sleep mode when they are not in use. The earbuds also automatically pause music when one or both are removed, and can also be used independently. For example, users only need to put in one earbud to take a call. The biggest differentiator from AirPods, according to The Verge reviewer Chris Welch is that the Powerbeats Pro case does not support Qi wireless charging. The Powerbeats Pro are also compatible with Android devices, although Android users will not be able to use the “Hey Siri” vocal invocation.
Powerbeats Pro Are Not In Competition With the AirPods, But Are An Alternative
Apple launched new AirPods last month which also include voice-activated Siri access. The two key differences between the AirPods and the Powerbeats Pro is the lack of the AirPod’s wireless charging case and price. The AirPods run for $149, or $200 with the wireless charging case, while the Powerbeats Pro are $250. The Powerbeats Pro also offers more color options and are advertised to be superior in isolating background noise.
Apple would like to continue to increase its market share lead in the wireless hearables market. The Powerbeats are an alternative to AirPods, not a direct competitor as Apple owns Beats. Apple AirPods controlled 24% of all wireless earbuds installed base in September 2018 as reported in the Voice Assistant Consumer Adoption Report. That was double the next closest competitor, Bose, at just 12%. And when you consider the Beats market share at 11.8%, Apple actually controls over a third of the wireless hearables market.
By offering an alternative to AirPods, Apple can continue to increase its market share and also give Siri a wider audience. It also sets a precedent that premium ear buds should have direct voice control as a standard, not just as a feature.