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On Wednesday, October 4th, Google held their Pixel 2 launch event in San Fransisco. While the bulk of the event detailed the features of the tech giant’s new flagship Android phone model, a potentially revolutionary product was revealed at the end of the presentation.
The surprising product introduced at the event was the Pixel Buds, which are a set of Bluetooth-enabled earbuds that are designed with the Pixel 2 handset in mind. With the launch of this accessory, Google is aiming squarely at the popular AirPods, made by their rival Apple, Inc. The Pixel Buds feature:
• 5-hour battery life
• Included recharging case with power for up to 4 full charges
• Touch-sensitive control surface
• Cloth connecting cord
On the surface, the Pixel Buds look like a well-designed set of earbuds with a good feature set. With an MSRP of $159, they’re also priced the same as the Apple AirPods. Google wasn’t satisfied with competing with their rival, however, and that’s where the Pixel Buds are poised to go from being ordinary to downright revolutionary.
When paired with the new Pixel 2 handset, the Pixel Buds become capable of a feature that’s so advanced, it was always relegated to the pages of science fiction novels. By leveraging the Google assistant features built into the handset, the Pixel Buds become capable of language translation in near real-time.
The technology at work here is the Google Translate app, which can translate between 40 different languages. Normally, to use this app to have a conversation, you’d have to pass your phone back and forth with the person you’re trying to communicate with. With the addition of the Pixel Buds, the whole process becomes much more natural and seamless.
The Bluetooth connection with the handset is almost lag-free, so there’s very little delay between the spoken input into the system and the translation being read aloud in the wearer’s ear. The spoken voice is clear and natural, making it much easier to converse without misunderstanding. Overall, it’s a vast improvement over all previous attempts at such a technology.
The Google Pixel Buds are the latest innovation to come from Google’s design laboratories, and their potential use as a communication device could prove to be a game-changer. It’s not often that technology provides a means to enhance the way people can communicate across borders and cultures, and the release of the Pixel Buds may turn out to be just such an event.