Google launches its new and improved Pixel Buds to take on AirPods
Google first dipped its toes into wireless earbuds with the original Pixel Buds in 2017, and now the upgrades have arrived. Having been briefly announced last October, the new and improved Pixel Buds are now on sale in the US, ready to give Apple's AirPods even stronger competition.
The connecting wire between the buds has been dropped, so these are now truly wireless earbuds – one little plastic shell for each ear. Other design changes include the addition of a short stem, which apparently means a more secure fit in your ear.
While noise canceling isn't included, the Pixel Buds do make some effort to shut out outside noise. Sensors in the earbuds will detect when you're on a call and talking, and try and limit the amount of sound that leaks in from your nearby environment.
The Pixel Buds will also ramp up the volume if they detect something loud happening nearby, like a coffee maker swinging into action. It's called Adaptive Sound, and Google says it works along similar lines to automatic brightness on a phone display.
As with the previous Pixel Buds, Google Assistant integration is a big draw. You'll be able to chat to the digital assistant app while wearing the earbuds, getting updates on the weather, having your text messages read out to you, and so on. The Google Assistant can even pipe real-time translations into your ear.
One of the reasons the AirPods are so popular is that pairing with an iPhone is so seamless, using proprietary Apple technology that builds on and improves on Bluetooth. Google has aimed for something similar with the Pixel Buds, with a speedier Fast Pair process for linking Android devices.
Like the AirPods, the Pixel Buds will work anywhere Bluetooth does, from your phone to your laptop. You'll get the best experience with Android though, including battery life reports for each earbud.
Speaking of battery, Google says the wireless earbuds can go for five hours of audio playback between charges, and if you carry around the charging case with you, then you've got 24 hours of listening pleasure to look forward to.
This is now a hugely competitive field – the likes of Samsung, Amazon, OnePlus and just about everyone else have their own AirPod competitors now – but the Pixel Buds look to be a solid step forward over the previous earbuds.
You can pick up the Pixel Buds in a Clear White color for US$179 right now in the United States. The earbuds will be available in other countries in the coming months, Google says, and other colors are on the way too: Almost Black, Quite Mint and Oh So Orange.
Product page: Google Pixel Buds