Google’s first foray into Bluetooth audio accessories is the Google Pixel Buds. They are advertised with best compatibility for the Pixel phones and, with Google Assistant, they are enabled to deliver instant translation.
Although they won’t admit, the real purpose of the Pixel Buds is to give you faster and easier access to Google Assistant. If there’s a thing that stands out about them, it’s how well that works.
To activate Assistant, you just hold your finger down on the right earbud and start talking. The Pixel Buds send your voice to the phone immediately when you do this, without making you wait for a beep or a confirmation or whatever. When you lift your finger, there’s a very subtle audio cue and then the Assistant speaks its response back to you.
This sort of experience is closer to the thing everybody’s been hoping for with AirPods — something like the movie Her where an audible computer is always there, waiting to listen. It removes friction by removing latency: you just tap and ask. It’s not worth breathless exclamations about how this enables the next step in computing, but it does seem more convenient.
Real-time Google Translate will be enabled to switch conversations in 40 languages. Machine learning and artificial intelligence will help users as well. The bulk of the control hardware rests on the right earbud with cable linkage to the smaller left earbud. While power cycles last around 5 hours, a charging case will extend that potential to about 24 hours.
It comes in Clearly White, Kinda Blue and Just Black colors. The Pixel Buds will run for $159. Pre-orders start today, but there’s no definitive ship date.
The Verge does a good job of breaking it all down.