Google is taking on Apple’s $160 wireless AirPods headphones with a direct competitor: Google Pixel Buds.
Google introduced the 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 $160 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 which keeps them topped up with juice – battery life is about five hours, but the charger can hold multiple full charges. They cost $160, just like Apple’s AirPods. They use Google Assistant, so you can converse with your Google-powered artificially intelligent assistant without taking out your phone.
There’s one huge difference, 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 one was speaking 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.”
You can use this translation feature for 40 languages. You don’t need a new Pixel for it – you just need an Android phone with Google Assistant, meaning 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 can – they’re Bluetooth headphones, so they’ll work with anything that uses Bluetooth connectivity.
If you’re not into the look of the Pixel Buds above, rest assured Google has several color options for you:
The Pixel Buds feature a touchpad on the right headphone so you can directly access Google Assistant or pause, play, or change the volume of your music.
The new headphones will be available in November and cost $160.
Check out a video of everything Google unveiled on Wednesday: