While the Moto Hint aesthetically looked more like the earpiece worn by the protagonist of Her, it lacked any smart capabilities. Shown off at IFA, the Xperia Ear will be available on December 13 for $199 and is a pretty close approximation of that future sci-fi product.
While branded Xperia, the Ear’s smart feature set works with any Android device thanks to a companion app available from the Play Store. Functionality is on par with Google Assistant, and even the Google app’s voice actions, but notably has the ability to read out incoming notifications.
Sony’s assistant allows users to send text messages and have incoming messages read aloud to them. The latter feature is also open to third-party apps like LINE, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, and Twitter. Other smart features include finding out what your daily schedule is, making calendar events, and getting directions.
To speak voice commands, users have to first tap the sole button on the Ear. There is no always-on listening, though interactions can also be done through a nod gesture that confirms commands.
The comparatively large earbud features a proximity sensor, gyroscope, and accelerometer. Battery life is rated at 4 hours of talk time — 12 hour with the charging case — and 80 hours of stand by time. Charging is still done by micro-USB on the rather tall case. Supported languages are UK and US English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, and Japanese.
It will first be available on December 13 in the US for $199 at Amazon, followed by Fry’s, Abt, B&H, and other retailers.