Airpods go pro, Google gets Fitbit, and the streaming wars heat up
My latest Techspotting segment on KITV’s Good Morning Hawaii, where Maleko McDonnell and I discuss the surprise launch of Apple’s new AirPods Pro with Active Noise Canceling (ANC), the acquisition of Fitbit by Google to revitalize competition in the wearables space, and the pending launches of Apple TV+ and Disney+.
Q: With the holidays around the corner, some cool gadgets are coming out. Apple updated one of its best gifts as well with the pro version of its Airpods?
A: The AirPods Pro came out last week largely as a surprise, though they were rumored to be coming. Already AirPods are everywhere, whether or not you like the way they look, but a lot of people didn’t like their somewhat large, fixed, hard plastic shape. If they didn’t fit your ears, you were out of luck. The AirPods Pro are smaller, come with soft rubber tips in different sizes, and fit more snugly inside your ear. What makes them Pro, I suppose, is that they feature ‘Active Noise Canceling,’ They’re going up against brands like Bose and Sony, and in-ear noise canceling is generally not as good as over-ear style headphones, but it was probably the one feature Apple could have added to make people want to pay $250 for them.
Q: Meanwhile, FitBit got a big boost for its wearable technology?
A: That’s right. FitBit is a small fitness tracker company that has managed to survive having the Apple Watch as a competitor by making simpler, more affordable hardware. And on Friday, the company announced it was being acquired by Google, for more than $2 billion. Of course, Google makes its own wearable software, but almost nobody uses it. So it makes sense for them to buy the only other major player in the space. A Fitbit Versa 2 watch costs under $200, whereas the Apple Watch starts at twice that price. This means that FitBit should probably be around a while, making FitBit gifts a good bet. But the acquisition might make trouble for Google as people raise concerns about the fitness and health data it will now have access to.