Jabra keeps an eye on voice-driven mobile apps

Jabra may specialize in headsets, but lately, the company seems to have mobile apps on the brain.

The two types of products aren’t mutually exclusive, explained Anders Rasmussen, Jabra’s director of product management, during a visit to Macworld’s office while he was in San Francisco for last week’s CTIA trade show. Jabra is a leading maker of Bluetooth headsets for mobile users, and a growing number of mobile apps rely on voice commands to let users do everything from send e-mails to update their Twitter status. From Jabra’s perspective, it only makes sense for the company to take an interest in software that lets users get more out of their headsets.

To that end, Jabra launched Jabra World of Apps, an online portal where the headset maker shines a spotlight on mobile software that’s been optimized for use with its products. The way Jabra sees it, it’s paring down the massive amount of mobile apps out there–the App Store alone offers 300,000 programs, according to Apple’s tally–into a more manageable list of headset-friendly apps. 

Currently, Jabra’s Web portal highlights 18 apps compatible with an array of mobile platforms, including Apple’s iOS devices. Featured products include everything from the VoiceBox Dialer voice-activated dialing app to Vlingo, a voice-recognition app that turns spoken words into e-mails, text messages, search commands, and status updates. Entries in the Jabra World of Apps include a brief description of the app along with a list of which platforms the app supports and a link to the developer’s Website (though, curiously, not a link to any mobile application store where you can buy the app). 

Look for more apps to make their way into Jabra’s Web portal in the future, Rasmussen says: “We’ll continuously update the site to help customers weed through all of those apps.”

Jabra’s interest in voice-driven applications doesn’t end with the mobile world. Last week, the company also unveiled its Skype-Certified Jabra Extreme wireless headset that’s guaranteed to work with the Skype Voice Over IP program–at least on the PC. (A Mac version is coming, Jabra promises, though likely not until 2011.) Among its other features, the $100 headset lets users field both Skype calls from their computer as well as calls from their mobile phone.

Jabra’s CTIA announcements also included a new behind-the-ear Bluetooth headset called the Jabra Wave. It’s the company’s first behind-the-ear design in several years, and it sports a thinner design aimed at delivering greater comfort. The Jabra Wave also features wind-noise reduction technology as well as voice guidance support. The iPhone-compatible headsets will debut at Verizon Wireless Communications stores in November; a price hasn’t yet been set.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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