The tributes for Sir Jony Ive - who announced his departure from Apple, continue to pour in. Many of these credit his contribution to two of Apple’s big recent successes – the Apple Watch and AirPods. Wearables are no longer the ‘next big thing’, Bose’s Frames is a case in point. It’s not just a product that integrates seamlessly into the present but also offers a glimpse of the future with its vision for audio-enabled AR.
A clever gadget has to work around your routine instead of forcing you to find use-case scenarios. Just like the AirPods or Apple Watch, you won’t need to keep reaching out for your phone once you wear the Frames. Bose scores with the style quotient, not something wearables have always been successful with. There are two variants – the Rondo (with a rounded frame, ideal for smaller faces) and the more angular Alto that was my constant companion for a week. They can pass off for a regular pair of shades, the slightly thick arms might be the only giveaway. During the past week, I got at least 15 unsuspecting individuals to wear on the Frames and suddenly turned on the music. The reactions were priceless.
Two speakers are integrated into each of the arms and belt out good quality sound – don’t expect the same sound pedigree as a high-end pair of headphones though. I’d recommend keeping the volume levels at about 50-60%. You get the best audio output at this decibel level and you’re also plugged in to external sounds. Even if you tweak the audio level slightly higher, you are unlikely to inconvenience fellow passengers on a flight. During my tests, I listened to music, podcasts and also made quite a few calls; the audio quality never disappointed. Callers never realised that I was plugged into a Bluetooth device.
A tiny, multi-functional button gets quite a lot of stuff done from powering on the frames to flipping tracks and just like your iPhone, a hard press activates Siri (or Google Assistant). We only wish that Bose had a volume control option on the Frames, that’s probably the only reason you’d need to pull your phone out of your pocket. Flipping the shades over turns the power off while the charging dock is concealed behind the right arm. We managed about three to four hours (tested over two charging cycles) battery life, in line with Bose’s claims. It’s not a lot but I’d rather settle for a snazzy pair of shades rather than one with a bulging battery. You can slip the slinky charging cable into the carry case which is quite convenient.
The Bose Connect App doesn’t just sync your smartphone with the Frames but also offers a peek into the future of Audio AR. There’s Konrad Air, an audio AR game that lands you in a cold war era spy thriller. I also checked out Navi Guide a navigation app with contextual information (this isn’t still India ready). While the AR apps might make this an even more fascinating gadget in the near future, the Bose Frames delivers more than just a novel experience in the now. It’s practical and stylish, a strong debut for a completely new type of wearable.
The Boss Frames cost Rs 21,900 and are available in two variants – Alto and Rondo. You can swap the lenses on your Frames Rs 1,990 (non-polarised) and Rs 2,990 (polarised) from the Bose Frames lens collection.
Ashwin Rajagopalan writes extensively on Gadgets & Trends, Travel & Lifestyle and Food & Drink. He owns and manages Brand Stories, a creative Content outfit and www.bytesize.in, a premier lifestyle blog with a focus on short-format content. Instagram: ‘ashwinpowers’)