Google & Qualcomm Push For More Assistant-Enabled Headphones

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Google and Qualcomm have both now confirmed a teaming up to help promote and fuel the availability of headphones and earphones that come equipped with Google Assistant support.

The fruits of the partnering is the new Qualcomm Smart Headset Development Kit for the Google Assistant, as well as a Qualcomm Smart Headset Reference Design (shown above).

The two elements are designed to make it easier for third-party companies to to bring about new products with less work, time and outlay.

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The Development Kit draws on Qualcomm's QCC5100-series Bluetooth audio chip. This series was first announced back in January of 2018 during CES and is purpose-designed to provide headphone solutions with better sound quality, battery life, and performance in general, while at the same time lowering power-consumption and demand.

In addition, the Development Kit also supports Google Fast Pair which is a feature that makes it much easier for users to connect Bluetooth products to an Android phone for the first time.

Naturally, the Headset Reference Design also includes these elements and is presented in more of a finish state. For example, the Headset Reference Design also includes an active push button which is used to activate the Google Assistant.

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In reality, this is not any different to the Development Kit and Reference Design Qualcomm announced back in October of last year for Amazon Alexa.

The principle of speeding up adopting through reducing time and cost to market is the same as the previous Development Kit and Reference Design, as is the employment of the QCC5100-series Bluetooth audio chip. In fact, based on the images shared with today's announcements, the actual Reference Design also looks identical.

As a result this seems to be more simply an expansion of support for the Development Kit and Reference Design by Qualcomm to include the Google Assistant as well as Amazon Alexa, with developers and device-makers able to consciously choose which voice assistant-based solution they want to go with.

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The bigger picture here is that consumers can expect more options to come through thanks to this partnering up as device-makers will have the option to take advantage of what is essentially an end-to-end solution. This will reduce for them, as well as improve the time it takes for a product to hit the market in general, putting them in the hands of consumers more quickly.

It may also lead to more choice when it comes to the cheaper end of the headphone spectrum as costs will be lowered and those savings can therefore be passed on.

Although this is being positioned as sort of a quick-fix solution for developers and device-makers, the announcement does point out the availability of the Development Kit to be customized, so third-parties will be able to make the products as simple or as complex as they like.

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The timing of the announcement was made to tally with Google's I/O 2019 event which has been ongoing for the past couple of days. The event is specifically aimed at developers which made an ideal platform for Google and Qualcomm to make the announcement.

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Editor-in-Chief

John has been writing about and reviewing tech products since 2014 after making the transition from writing about and reviewing airlines. With a background in Psychology, John has a particular interest in the science and future of the industry. Besides adopting the Managing Editor role at AH John also covers much of the news surrounding audio and visual tech, including cord-cutting, the state of Pay-TV, and Android TV. Contact him at [email protected]

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