Google Unveils Pixel Buds Earphones, Aping Apple's AirPodsBy
New gadget can translate languages live into users’ ears
Google’s digital assistant can be summoned with a tap
Google’s new Pixel phones follow Apple Inc.’s 2016 decision to remove the headphone jack -- and now the internet giant is following the iPhone formula again with wireless earbuds.
At an event in San Francisco Wednesday, the Alphabet Inc. unit launched Pixel Buds, a set of earphones that connect to its latest Pixel phones over Bluetooth. Unlike Apple’s AirPods, the buds are connected by a wire that rests behind the neck. Similar to Apple’s popular earphones, the Pixel Buds cost $160, come with a carrying case that doubles as charger, and have five hours of battery. The case provides four charges over 24 hours before it has to be plugged in.
The Pixel Buds let users listen to music but also have Google’s digital voice assistant built-in. A user can tap the right headphone to invoke Google Assistant, control music playback with their voice, and get directions from the company’s Maps app. The headset’s most show-worthy feature is a live translate mode, which lets users hand their phone off to someone speaking another language and that speech will automatically convert to the wearer’s native tongue and be played back by the Pixel Buds.
Like the AirPods, the Pixel Buds eschew the often cumbersome Bluetooth pairing process in favor of just flipping the headphone case open and authenticating on the phone’s screen. The Pixel Buds must be purchased separately from the new Pixel phones and ship in November following pre-orders, which begin Wednesday.