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Unlike last year’s Surface Headphones, which only worked with Cortana, the Surface Earbuds that Microsoft announced today work with any virtual assistant. That means you can use the Surface Earbuds with Cortana, but also with Alexa, Bixby, Google Assistant, Siri, or any other competitor. We talked to Surface Earbuds product lead Mohammed Samji to find out more about the $249 buds and the Surface Audio app. Like the Surface Headphones, the Surface Earbuds don’t do anything until you pair them. Surface Earbuds communicate over Bluetooth 5.0 with an Android, iOS, or Windows 10 device. Once paired, you can tap and hold either of the buds to trigger the default assistant on your device. To use a different virtual assistant with the Surface Earbuds, just change the default assistant on the paired device. “Out of the box, it just works,” Samji said. “On PC, it launches Cortana. On iOS, it will launch Siri, unless you’ve changed it. And I think it might vary depending on the distribution of Android, but all the ones I’ve tested, the first time I do it, Android asks me what I want as my default.” Surface Earbuds still offer a better experience with Cortana (although without the “Hey Cortana” wakeword), Samji made sure to emphasize. Surface Earbuds can do everything with Cortana that the Surface Headphones can do, like chit-chat, interact with your email, check your calendar, get your daily update, and create to-dos. Samji said his team created a more streamlined flow for all this Cortana functionality. It’s called Surface Audio. A Surface Audiotrademark filing from September 27 was discovered by LetsGoDigital earlier today. The trademark is classified under Class 9, which is reserved for firmware and software. Samji confirmed Surface Audio is the companion app for the Surface Earbuds. We have more posted on OUR FORUM.

 

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