We've always been impressed by the Bluetooth speakers made by Ultimate Ears, and now the company has added a new feature that's really got us paying attention: support for Siri and Google Now. With the latest software update from UE, owners of the Boom 2 and Megaboom can access Apple and Google's digital assistants just by holding down the speakers' Bluetooth buttons. The devices then relay any voice commands to a connected Android or iOS handset, letting users access locally stored music and streaming services including Spotify, Google Play Music, and Apple Music.
All the usual Siri and Google Now functions are available
It's a simple feature, but one that really adds to the speakers' utility. Both the Boom 2 and Megaboom are IPX7 water-resistant, meaning that if you're using them on the beach or by the pool you can now select new music without having to dry your hands or endanger your handset. It also means people besides the owner of the phone connected to the speakers can quickly change the music. And according to Ultimate Ears, anything you can do with Siri and Google Now, you can now do via the company's speakers — so that's not just accessing music, but also asking directions, sending texts, and checking the weather.
But unlike, say, Amazon's Echo Tap (which functions in an identical push-to-talk way), the digital assistant in UE's speakers isn't located on the devices itself. Every command is being relayed to a connected phone, and judging by early previews of the devices, this isn't a perfect solution. Engadget reports that when using the speakers there were delays in response time, dropped connections to smartphones, and some inaccuracy in parsing voice commands. This is to be expected when the hardware hasn't been optimized for this task, but the integration itself is still, to our ears, potentially very useful.