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Google Announces “Wireless” Headphones – The New Pixel Buds

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Google announced a ton of new products yesterday, including their new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. All of the products look incredible, but there was one that stuck out for me.  Their wireless headphones.  I’m slow to embrace this idea of wireless headphones.  Not because I don’t like them, or think they’re convenient, but because I use my headphones to talk on the phone.  So I need the microphone to work well.  And that’s not always the case with wireless headphones.  That being said, however, I love how convenient the wireless headphones are.  They don’t get caught in your clothing, your hair or earrings trying to get them on (or off).
And, they don’t get in the way when you’re working out either.  So I’m always excited to see new wireless headphones.

Like I said, all the products that Google announced yesterday are incredible looking, and their Pixel Buds are no different.  What is different about them, however, is that they have a cloth cord connecting the two earpieces.  These are very similar to the AirPods, except for the cord.  The AirPods are completely wireless.  I guess technically the Pixel Buds are completely wireless too.  The cloth cord has mainly one purpose – to keep them together.  Which makes them unique when you compare them to the AirPods.

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They cost the same, so you have options if you’re thinking about the price.  The cord that connects them is both shorter and more flexible than other earbud cords.  And the cloth makes it a bit more comfortable  The challenge with the AirPods is what do you do with them when you don’t want them in your ear?  You can put them in your pocket, but maybe you don’t have one when you’re working out.  Which is why this makes the Pixel Buds different and maybe more convenient than the AirPods?

Google also wanted to make these a bit different in terms of size.  With a lot of other headphones you are forced to wear something that doesn’t fit, or you have to add another piece or take one away. I, for example, have small ears and therefore have had to use the “small” attachments for some of my headphones.  Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate that the sizes are customizable in that sense.  But Google doesn’t like that.  Which is why they nestle into your outer ear and stay anchored in place by a small loop formed by the cord.  Is this a secondary reason for the cord?  You can adjust the cloth cord to a length that fits your ear and then pop them in.  Yet another benefit of the cloth cord, I might add.

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They come in a cloth-covered case (which looks super cute), which also acts as a charging unit.  Google says they should last about five hours on each charge.  They sound good also, which is important as that’s why you’re buying the headphones in the first place.  They come in three colours – white, gray and black.  You can control the earbuds with a few different gestures on the right earbud.  Tapping it makes your music play or pause.  Swiping it forward increases the volume and swiping back decreases the volume.

The big reason for the Pixel Buds in the first place is to give you access to Google Assistant.  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. Which makes this feature more convenient than with some other, similar products.

In addition, the Pixel Buds allow you to translate between 40 different languages.  To do this, you hold your finger down on your hear and say “help me speak French” and then say a phrase.  When you lift your finger, the Translate app speaks and displays your translation.  What is truly amazing about this is how you can interact with another person.  When they say something to you in French, all they have to do is hold a button on your phone, which you will hear in your ear – translated into whatever language you want.

The Pixel Buds are more about practicality rather than style.  They’re not all that nice looking, but neither are the AirPods in my opinion.  This is the way that the market is going so I’m not surprised that Google has come out with their own version of wireless earphones.  I wonder if their next iteration will be completely wireless (and without cord) or if they are standing behind their design? I’m always a little bit surprised with Google when they announce their new products, but by now I probably shouldn’t be.