Google has unveiled its own brand of wireless earbuds. The Pixel Buds are primarily made for listening to music, podcasts, and whatever else you listen to on your smartphone. However, they also offer access to Google Assistant and the real-time translation of 40 foreign languages.
Let’s not bury the lede here. Google has ditched the headphone jack on the Pixel 2, hammering the final nail in the coffin of that particular port. This makes it easier to sell people a pair of earbuds for $159. So now we know why the Pixel Buds are even a thing, let’s see what they have to offer…
Google Assistant Makes All the Difference
The Pixel Buds are wireless earbuds you wear around your neck. They connect to your mobile device via Bluetooth, offer audio controls via a touchpad, and come with a charging case. So far, so meh. The real genius of the Pixel Buds comes in the form of Google Assistant and Google Translate.
The new Pixel Buds offer instant access to Google Assistant. All you have to do is touch and hold the right earbud, and you can then ask Google Assistant to “play music, make a phone call, or get directions,” all while keeping your phone firmly ensconced in your pocket safe from muggers.
The Babel Fish Is Reborn
As for the Google Translate functionality, this lets you get real-time translations of any of 40 different languages. Making you an instant multilinguist without any of the effort. Adam Champy, the Product Manager for the Pixel Buds, explains it best in a post on the Google Blog, saying:
“It’s like you’ve got your own personal translator with you everywhere you go. Say you’re in Little Italy, and you want to order your pasta like a pro. All you have to do is hold down on the right earbud and say, ‘Help me speak Italian.’ As you talk, your Pixel phone’s speaker will play the translation in Italian out loud. When the waiter responds in Italian, you’ll hear the translation through your Pixel Buds.”
The Pixel Buds Class System
Before you get too excited about the Google Translate functionality, this feature is only available on the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. At least for now. One has to assume that this is the first stage of the plan, with the ultimate goal being to offer real-time translations on every device. But that’s some way off.
Google Assistant is available through the Pixel Buds when connected to “an Assistant-enabled Android device”. The Pixel Buds are also compatible with iDevices running iOS 10.0 or higher, but only for listening to music via Bluetooth. So we recommend Apple fans stick with the AirPods.
A Genuinely Innovative Product… on Paper
The Pixel Buds look, on paper at least, to be a genuinely innovative product. With a little help from Google Assistant, and a lot of help from Google Translate. Unfortunately, we don’t yet know how good these real-time translations will be in the wild, so we’ll reserve judgement for the time being.
Do you like the look of the Google Pixel Buds? Are you happy to pay the asking price for a pair of earbuds? Has the Google Assistant functionality sold you on the Pixel Buds? Or are you more excited by the real-time translations? Please let us know in the comments below!