Microsoft is introducing a new pair of wireless earbuds to join the company’s noise-canceling headphones. The Surface Earbuds were announced at today’s event in New York City. They’ll be available “later this year” for $249. The Surface Earbuds are tuned for both music and voice performance — Microsoft is pitching them as a must-have Office accessory with dictation and excellent call quality. Each earbud has two microphones built in, which aid in noise reduction when you’re speaking into them.
Microsoft claims the Surface Earbuds have “all-day comfort” — they make contact with your ear in two places — and, with the included carrying case, offer up to 24 hours of battery life. You get eight hours of continuous playback on a charge, and the case contains enough for two full refills. As with many other wireless earbuds, they use tap and swipe gestures to control your music or other audio.
“On Android, with a few simple taps, you can open Spotify, and it will start to play the right music for you in that moment. There’s no screen required,” said Microsoft’s Robin Seiler. The Surface Earbuds also include integration with Microsoft Office, allowing for features like real-time captions during presentations and the ability to move through PowerPoint slides with a swipe of the touch area.
But I think the design is going to be, uh, pretty divisive. When in your ear, the Surface Earbuds have a very large circular look that’s not at all discreet. “We looked at many options for ergonomics and weight. We created a simple design that balances against two points in your ear,” said Seiler. The company says the Surface Earbuds offer excellent in-ear stability as a result of their unique design.
The Surface Earbuds join the Surface Headphones as Microsoft’s flagship audio products. The company did not announce a sequel to the headphones today, however.