In the world of smartphones and mobile devices, you would be hard-pressed to find bigger players than Apple and Google. Because of their prominence in their field, it’s almost impossible to not compare them.
So, don’t blame me when I compare Google’s Pixel Buds and Apple’s AirPods.
Let me just say right off the bat that Pixel Buds don’t look or feel nearly as premium as AirPods do(my personal opinion though).
Of course, the most intriguing aspect of the Pixel Buds isn’t the way they look, feel, fit, or pair, but the fact that they have Google Assistant built in. And Google has used Pixel Buds as an opportunity to showcase just how powerful that can be.
Pixel Bud+Google Assistant+Google Translate
That relationship shined during Google’s onstage demo when the company showed how the Pixel Buds use Google Assistant to provide real-time translations via Google Translate. The combination of Google Assistant, Translate, and Pixel Buds almost perfectly showcases the “AI + hardware + software” approach Google CEO Sundar Pichai kept emphasizing throughout the launch event.
Pixel Buds may not look or feel just as great as AirPods — even though their basic functionality is nearly the same — but they open up many more possibilities for what’s possible thanks to Google’s ever smarter Assistant.
Married with the Pixel 2, the Pixel Buds not only let you hear foreign speech in a language you can understand, but when replying you just have to tap the side of an earbud and speak right back to have your words translated back to the language of your conversation partner. It’s a pretty slick, seamless system, and if it works even half as well as the demo, it’ll be a brilliant tool for travelers.
As you might imagine, the Pixel Buds aren’t exactly cheap. You’ll have to toss down $159 for the privilege of owning a pair, and even then they’re not independently wireless. The buds are connected by a wire that runs between them, like the BeatsX, which may or may not be a deal breaker for you.
The $159 earbuds (available in November) wirelessly charge in their case (the case charges via USB-C port). Google says one charge will last up to five hours and the case itself is good for four charges. The case is covered in a gray cloth similar to what’s on the Google Home Mini and the cord on the buds is also cloth-covered.