Apple's "courage" in removing the headphone jack from the iPhone happened too early for most wireless earbuds manufacturers, including Apple itself. Now we're enjoying the second generation of the AirPods, but Apple looks set to get some new competition from one of the biggest players in the smart device category: Amazon.

As Bloomberg reports, Amazon is expected to release a competitor to Apple's AirPods in the second half of 2019. They will be very similar to the second generation of AirPods, with Alexa handling voice interactions alongside physical gestures for answering and ending a call among other things.

One area of focus is audio quality. Clearly Amazon wants to out perform Apple where it can, and a better audio experience seems to be the best bet for grabbing consumer attention. We can expect the Alexa earbuds to mirror AirPods in other areas, including shipping with a storage case that doubles as a charger, which can itself be recharged using a USB cable. As for colors, we should apparently expect black and gray options.

In order for these earbuds to be smart, Amazon needs to pair them with a smartphone. That means both Android and iOS devices will need to be running an Alexa app for them to function. As these apps are already popular, it shouldn't form a barrier for people opting to buy them over AirPods, but Amazon could offer another advantage when it comes to pricing.

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The AirPods currently sell for $159 with a charging case or $199 with a wireless charging case. Amazon is always keen to offer lower pricing than its rivals, so we could see the Alexa earbuds priced at $129 or even $99 if Amazon really wanted to make an impact. If the audio quality is better, too, they should be an instant hit.

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