Google is taking on Apple’s $US160 wireless AirPod headphones with a direct competitor: Google Pixel Buds.
Google introduced the new headphones during an event on Wednesday morning in California, alongside new entries in the Google Home smart speaker line, a new Chromebook laptop, and the next generation of the company’s Pixel phone.
The $US160 Pixel Buds headphones aren’t entirely wireless, as you can see above — a cable connects each side of the headphone set, unlike Apple’s completely wireless AirPods. In most other ways though, they’re nearly identical to what Apple’s offering:
- They’re wireless, in that they don’t need to be attached to the phone you’re using them with.
- They come with a recharging pack, which you can easily fit in your pocket and keeps them topped up with juice (battery life is about five hours, but the charger can hold multiple full charges).
- They cost $US160, just like Apple’s AirPods.
- They use Google Assistant, so you can converse with your Google-powered AI assistant without taking out your phone.
There’s one huge difference with Google’s Pixel Buds, though, and it’s a software feature: real-time translation!
In a demo on-stage during Google’s event, one Google employee spoke to another — except, instead of speaking in English, one demoer was speaking in Swedish while the other was responding in English. The headphones were able to translate what the other person was saying in real time, similar to the “babel fish” concept in “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.”
As seen above, you can use this translation feature for 40 different languages. You don’t need a new Pixel for it, you just need an Android phone with Google Assistant — that means most new Android phones, as well as last year’s Pixel (and the new Pixel 2, of course). And if you want them to use them solely as wireless headphones, you totally can — they’re Bluetooth headphones, so they will work with anything that uses Bluetooth connectivity.
If you’re not into the look of the Pixel Buds above, rest assured that Google has several colour options for you:
The Pixel Buds feature a touch pad on the right headphone so you can directly access Google Assistant, or pause/play/change the volume of your music.
The new headphones are available this November, and cost $US160. Check out a video of everything Google unveiled on Wednesday: