Amazon is developing earbuds with Alexa, its AI-enabled voice assistant, built-in, which are expected to launch as early as the second half of 2019, as it attempts to rival Apple's enormously popular AirPods, according to a Bloomberg report.
The new headphones would reportedly look similar to AirPods and have similar functionality. However, the retail giant is striving for better audio quality, according to insiders. The earbuds would sit inside users ears without external attachments much like AirPods do.
"The headphones will let people use their voice to order goods, access music, weather and other information on the go," reported Bloomberg. "The Amazon digital assistant will be summoned by saying "Alexa". There will be physical gesture controls, such as tapping to pick up and end calls and switch between songs."
The Amazon earbuds would require pairing with a phone as they would not have built-in cellular connectivity, which would mean the company would have to work through Apple and Google, as the firm already does with its current Alexa apps.
The news shows the company's keenness to become a big player in the burgeoning wearables market, of which earbuds are currently the fastest growing category. According to Counterpoint Research 12.5 million pairs were sold in 4Q18, with Apple's AirPods accounting for 60% of all sales.
AirPods are the iPhone maker's most successful accessory yet and Apple is expected to launch a new generation of the product this year.