Tech Guide

These new Bose wireless noise-canceling headphones let you ask Google almost anything

Key Points
  • The Bose QC 35 II headphones offer fantastic audio and noise cancellation.
  • They follow the popular Bose QC 35 headphones that launched last year but include Google Assistant.
  • A button on the side allows you to control Google Assistant to ask for the weather, nearby restaurants, sports scores and more.
I really like the Bose QC 35 II headphones
Anita Balakirshnan | CNBC

Bose's new QuietComfort 35 II — best known as the QC 35II — are the best Bluetooth noise-canceling headphones you can buy right now.

The QC35 II headphones follow in the footsteps of the very popular Bose QC35 set, which has received almost universal praise from consumers who sought noise canceling and Bluetooth in the same package. They weren't cheap, and neither are the $349 QC35 II headphones. They're worth it if you travel, though.

Better yet, the new model is the first set of headphones built with official support for Google Assistant, which means you can ask any sort of question — like the Yankees score or Apple's stock price — just by tapping a button.


I wish Bose had adopted the newer USB-C charging standard
Todd Haselton | CNBC

The actual headphones haven't changed much since last year. The design and fit feel almost the same (I'm a proud owner of the originals). There's still a micro-USB port for charging, and I wish Bose had updated this to the more common USB-C standard used in most consumer electronics. The volume and power buttons are within easy reach, and the cups are nice and comfortable even after hours of use.

Oh, and if you still like using the 3.5mm headphone jack, you can. Bose provides a 2.5mm to 3.5mm jack in the included carrying case that you can use at any time, including if the headset's battery dies.

There's also a new Google Assistant button for pulling up the virtual assistant, which we'll discuss now.


The Google Assistant button and 3.5mm headphone jack on the Bose QC 35 II
Todd Haselton | CNBC

I didn't think I'd care much to have Google built in to a set of headphones, but it works really well. You'll first need to install and sign in to the Google Assistant app on Android or iPhone, which takes a few seconds to do. After you've done that, a quick tap of the button pulls up Google for all sorts of tasks. You can ask the assistant to remind you of something, play specific music, start a movie on your phone and more.

The function is brilliant and, while I haven't flown with them just yet, I can imagine it's much easier than fumbling with an iPad in a cramped airline seat. There are other uses, too.

You can ask Google to play the news and hear highlights, set a timer, find nearby restaurants if you're walking around town, ask for a breakdown of your day and more. Google worked really well during my tests, accurately understanding what I was asking.


The cups are large and comfortable

The Bose QC 35 II headphones sound about the same as last year's model, at least in my test, so the major change really just comes down to the built-in Google Assistant and adjustable noise cancellation settings. The latter allows you to tweak how much noise cancellation is coming through, so you can leave some background noise in case you want to be able to hear the flight attendant as she walks down the aisle with dinner, or hear a colleague at work.

The Bose QC 35 II and the Google Assistant button
Todd Haselton | CNBC

The audio sounds great to me, which is why I still adore my original set of Bose headphones, although I know some audiophiles squirm at the very mention of the Bose brand. Still, for great sound and solid noise canceling, I haven't found anything that comes close to the Bose QC 35 or Bose QC 35 II headphones.

Should you buy?

Easy-to-reach power switch on Bose QC 35 II
Todd Haselton | CNBC

I'm torn. I don't think I'll be upgrading from my already-great Bose QC 35 headphones just for Google Assistant, which I don't think is worth $350 alone.

On the other hand, if you're looking for a set of Bluetooth headphones that also offer noise cancellation, especially if you're a frequent traveler, then grab the Bose QC 35 II. They offer 20-hour battery life, excellent sound and, now, Google Assistant. You can't go wrong.