Microsoft held a major event in New York today, during which it introduced a bunch of new Surface devices, including a laptop, tablets, and even a Galaxy Fold competitor. The company also unveiled its new Surface Earbuds, which are its take at true-wireless earphones. Even though they're a bit late to the game, their Office integration sets them apart from the competition.
Just like most wireless earbuds, the Surface ones come with a charging case, thanks to which they can reach an impressive 24 hours of battery life. They're controlled using touch gestures, such as swiping to fast forward to the next track, double-tapping to answer a call, or triple-tapping to automatically launch Spotify and start playing music.
The Earbuds feature Omnisonic sound and integrate two microphones in each bud to effectively capture your voice and remove any background noise. They're designed to stay in place throughout the day thanks to their secure fit and can be kept on while exercising. They're far from being discreet, though, and I'm personally not a fan of their design, but the flip side is the large surface allows for more accessible touch controls. Unfortunately, there's no mention of any water-resistance, which could mean you'd need to pay attention not to get them wet. Similarly, the company hasn't shared if the case would feature wireless charging.
Most interestingly, Microsoft has designed the Surface Earbuds with productivity in mind and integrated them with its Office suite: You can control your slides by swiping on the buds, ask them about your calendar events or emails, or even have them translate your speech with live captions appearing on the screen during your presentations. These features are key differentiators, and Microsoft is not only targeting people looking for an audio product but also the ones interested in a more advanced productivity tool. I have to admit I wouldn't be too comfortable swiping on my ears while talking to clients, but they remain a powerful asset to help you deliver impactful presentations. You could always argue these are a gimmick or that there are other ways to do similar things without buying them, but the level of integration and simplicity Microsoft has shown makes them an innovative solution that other major vendors didn't explore.
The Surface Earbuds will be available during the Holiday season for $249 and we should know more about their technical specifications by then.
In a tweet posted today, Microsoft's Chief Product Officer, Panos Panay, shared it's taking the company longer than expected to develop the Surface Earbuds. For this reason, their global launch date has been pushed back to Spring 2020. There has been no clear explanation as to what is causing the delay, but as it's a rather significant one, it could be related to an engineering issue. We'll keep you posted as we learn more about this delay, and when Microsoft confirms the buds exact launch date.
Product-making is about the relentless pursuit to get all the details right, which takes time…sometimes more than we planned on. To ensure we deliver the best possible experience for you, our fans & customers, Surface Earbuds will now launch worldwide in Spring 2020 #Surface
— Panos Panay (@panos_panay) November 21, 2019