Google’s first entry into the wireless headphone market is here, and it’s probably because it killed the headphone jack on its new Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL smartphones. The Pixel Buds cost $159 — the same as Apple AirPods — and will be available in three colors: white, black and blue. As you’ll notice, the Pixel Buds aren’t truly wireless headphones like the AirPods; a cloth string connects the two of them together. The circular earbuds feature a number of swipe and touch gesture controls, to do things like pause your music, adjust the volume and answer calls. You can also touch the right earbud to activate Google Assistant, which can help you with directions or read your latest text message.
One neat feature is that the Pixel Buds will fast-pair with any Android running Marshmallow OS or higher. This is similar to what Apple’s W1 chip enables the latest iPhones to do with AirPods, but because it’s open to all new Androids, the Pixel Buds will be a convenient choice for all Android users.
The other cool feature — and this one is exclusive to Pixel 2 owners — is that the Pixel Buds will work with Google Translate to translate conversations in real time. When wearing the earbuds, speak normally and your phone speaker will play what you said in the language you want; meanwhile, anyone you’re speaking with can speak into your phone, and you’ll hear the translation through the Pixel Buds. Google says this feature works with 40 languages. The presenters at Google’s event had a little trouble getting this to work, but it could be exciting if it works well.
The Pixel Buds come in a compact charging case that can provide the earbuds with 24 hours of total listening. You can expect to get roughly 5 hours out of each earbud on a single charge.
You can preorder the Pixel Buds today for $159. They will ship in November.