Microsoft’s new Surface Buds are earbuds with links to Microsoft Office for voice control and transcription.
The new product is a rival to the Apple Airpods and many other similar cordless earphones. What’s different is the touch surface with allow more integration with Windows and especially Office.
It’s unclear what, if anything, is unique to Microsoft Surface Buds. A lot of the Office integration features are available now to anyone with Office 365 for Windows and a microphone.
Touch your ear to switch slides
Surface Buds will add a way to move between slides.
Each Bud has a control surface or ‘touch area’. Linked to a computer with PowerPoint, swiping the touch area will advance to the next slide.
The large touch area on Surface Buds is interesting. Instead of tiny buttons, there’s room for tapping, swiping and other gestures on each bud. Plenty of room for development there, if Microsoft allows developers access.
PowerPoint Live Caption and Translation
With Live Captioning, you can talk during a presentation. It will appear on the screen as text subtitles either in your language or translated.
Live Captions have been in PowerPoint for Windows for most of 2019.
It’s not clear how the feature is different with Surface Buds.
Email and Calendar via Surface Buds
According to Microsoft, the Surface Buds will be able to ‘Listen to, delete and reply to emails’.
How that works is not known. All those things are possible now with some of the Windows accessibility features, though they are very cumbersome to use. Tapping on a smartphone is a lot faster and easier.
Dictate to Word or Outlook
Another promo line for Surface Buds is
“Don’t type. Talk. Dictate your documents in Office apps like Word and Outlook.”
That’s been possible for many years, first with third-party products and more recently with cloud based Dictation within Office 365. Dictate was originally a separate Garage project, it’s now integrated into Office 365 for Windows.
Beware the claims of ’24 hour’ battery life. That’s how long the Buds are supposed to work with the charging case. The Buds alone are promoted as lasting 8 hours. How either the Buds or charging case work in real life, remains to be seen.
Surface Buds will cost US$249 when they go on sale.
They use Bluetooth to connect with iPhone, Android or any other device with Bluetooth v4.1/4.2