Amazon Updates Echo Buds to Avoid Potential Overheating
Discussions about how the hearables market is heating up aren’t usually literal, but concern that the Echo Buds will get too hot has prompted Amazon to push out a firmware update and ask owners to install it as soon as they are able. Happily for Amazon, the wireless earbuds are not universally available yet and the pool of early adopters is relatively small.
My Ears are Burning
A report by an Echo Buds owner about the device getting too hot in the charging case led Amazon to investigate the matter. The company explained to Echo Buds owners in an email that “in rare cases” the device could indeed overheat while charging. How hot the Echo Buds could actually get, and whether it was akin to the exploding Galaxy phones or simply uncomfortable to touch with possible damage over time isn’t clear, however. Still, it was a big enough issue for Amazon to work up a firmware update that it said will eliminate the overheating problem. As a bonus, the updated supposedly “improves the long-term performance of Echo Buds’ batteries.”
Echo Buds batteries are supposed to last five hours and need only 15 minutes in the charging case to last another two hours. When the case is fully charged, it can extend the battery life to 20 hours all told before it needs to be charged too. when fully charged, reaching 20 hours with Any Echo Buds owners should make sure their firmware number is 318119151 or higher, and update it if not. Presumably, the firmware will be well beyond that point by August 14, when pre-orders for the earbuds are scheduled to start shipping for the general public.
Jokes about Amazon Fire aside, it’s notable that Amazon is still resolving these kinds of problems with the Ear Buds, just a month before their wide release. Even if the overheating was rare and didn’t present a safety hazard, it’s not something that Amazon wants people to associate with its Alexa-enabled wearables as it continues to promote the ones revealed at last year’s product launch event. Like the Echo Frames smart glasses and Echo Loop smart ring, they are built around the concept of carrying Amazon’s voice assistant with you everywhere you go. But, earbuds are much more common than smart glasses and rings, at least for now. The Echo Buds are likely to be more popular than the other Amazon wearables, at least at first.
Incorporating active noise reduction and costing $130 will entice plenty of people who want higher quality audio without the higher prices of rival devices. And there are more competitors all the time. Every voice assistant developer and lots of audio tech companies have their own variation on wireless earbuds, with new and updatd versions arriving regularly. Apple AirPods still hold the lead in the market, but Google Pixel Buds, the Samsung Galaxy Buds+, and even Microsoft’s Surface Earbuds are all attempting to get a share. The Echo Buds will likely be a hot commodity among the crowd, but hopefully only metaphorically.