Amazon tests workout-tracking earbuds, but Apple’s could be better


Amazon tests workout-tracking earbuds, but Apple’s could be better
Amazon is working on step-tracking tech for its wireless earbuds.
Photo: Amazon

Amazon is reportedly testing workout-tracking software for its Amazon Echo Buds. While this feature is seemingly still in its early testing phase, fitness-measuring earbuds could be a massive deal.

The good news? Apple is working on something very similar — and possibly even more advanced.

Amazon’s workout-tracking earbuds

A CNBC report notes that the network discovered the feature in a test unit of Echo Buds paired with Amazon’s Alexa app. The report comes from Todd Haselton, Technology Products Editor for CNBC. Haselton writes that:

“While writing a review of the Amazon Fire HD 10 tablet on Tuesday, I paired the review unit Echo Buds to listen to some music. As I was moving through the Alexa app on the tablet, which is how you manage the Echo Buds connected to a device, I saw something I didn’t see when I first reviewed the Echo Buds a couple of weeks ago.

Inside the Alexa app, under where you would normally manage the equalizer settings for the Echo Buds, was a whole new ‘Fitness’ section.

You can’t yet track workouts, but the feature is appearing in the Alexa app if you have Echo Buds. The section included the option to track a workout, a fitness profile that included only a space for my height, and a Workouts heading.”

Haselton said that the Workouts section of the app said he could start tracking a workout by saying, “Alexa, start a workout.” Then did this, and the Echo Buds then “appeared” to track his movement. After walking around, it told him that: “You’ve worked out for 1 minute and 37 seconds. You’ve logged 0.04 miles with an average pace of 44 minutes and 13 seconds per mile. You took 114 steps.”

At the moment, the feature seems to be limited to step tracking. An Amazon spokesperson declined to comment on the discovery.

Could Apple follow in Echo Buds’ workout-tracking footsteps?

As noted up top, Amazon is not the only company exploring health and fitness tracking with its earpods. A previous patent filed by Apple describes wireless earbuds with built-in sensors for performing heart rate monitoring and taking body temperature measurements.

Given that Apple already has step-tracking tech built into the iPhone and Apple Watch, it seems quite possible that it could incorporate that into the AirPods as well. In the past, Apple has even explored technology that could speed up or slow down music tempo based on your workout. This could be based on metrics like body motion, heart rate, respiratory rate, and temperature.

“It is well documented that music can affect the mood and behavior of people,” Apple wrote in a previous patent application, published in 2014. “During exercise in particular, music can be used to motivate, speed and drive the intensity of the workout. For example, it is generally believed that if the music is invigorating and inspiring people will be more motivated to work out. Because of this, most gyms play music with an upbeat tempo to keep people motivated during their work out.”

Apple's earbud patent
Apple’s patent shows how its biometric tech would fit into AirPods.
Photo: USPTO

Would workout-tracking earbuds be a good move?

Personally, I think that workout-tracking earbuds would be a great move for Apple. The AirPods Pro and Powerbeats Pro are both seemingly designed for the fitness crowd. Adding additional functionality would be one more way of making AirPods into a “must have” for Apple.

For now, all of this is still in the future. It’s not clear when (or even if) Amazon will roll out its fitness-tracking tech. But this is totally something I’d love to see. If anything could make wireless earbuds more popular than they are already, this is it!

Would this be a selling point for future AirPods for you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.