What’s Cool and Not So Cool About the Google Pix­el Buds


Google unveiled its proprietary Pixel Buds, alongside the launch of Google Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, and several other devices from the Google family that are retailing at $159 in the USA. These products will be available in Canada, U.K., Germany, Australia, and Singapore in November.

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The Google Pixel Buds locks horns with Apple’s wireless Airpods but are only as good as normal Bluetooth earpieces when connected to an iPhone.

What’s Cool About the Pixel Buds?

When most of the new age smartphones are ditching the headphone jack, why should the Pixel 2 be any different? The Google Pixel 2 is one of the latest phones to hop on the ‘headphone-less‘ bandwagon.

Google Pixel Buds

And with it, the company has announced its first wireless earbuds. Prosaically named as the Google Pixel Buds, this pair of wireless earphones has a slew of cool features. The Google Assistant can be enabled with a tap on the right earbud.

For one, the Google Assistant can be enabled with a tap. All you have to do is tap on the right earbud and give the commands. Whether it’s sending a text message, playing music or asking for new directions — the Pixel Buds will be able to carry each and every command seamlessly.

What’s more, this nifty pair of earphones can translate in real time. As per the live demo at the Google Product Launch event, the Pixel Buds can hear you speak a different language and the phone translates and plays it back to the Buds in real time.

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As far as charging is concerned, they follow the same style as the Apple AirPods – they come with a small charging case fitted with a 620mAh battery. A full charge can withstand up to five hours of playback time.

The Google Pixel Buds are priced at $159 and are available for pre-order from October 4. They come in the same colors as the Pixel 2 – Just Black, Clearly White, and Kinda Blue.

What’s Not Cool About the Pixel Buds?

Google’s pot-shot on Apple during their last year’s Pixel launch for not sporting a 3.5mm headphone jack on the iPhone 7 supposedly meant that the company was still not ready to let go off of the 3.5mm audio jack.

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But they did! And that’s not cool. Because a really useful Google Pixel Buds function like the live translation in 40 different languages only works if you have a Pixel device.

They also only launch the Google Assistant’s services as soon as you open the case to your device if it’s running Android Nougat — that’s about 15.8% of the entire Android device market.

Even if two tech titans — Google and Apple — have decided that the 3.5mm headphone jack isn’t really useful anymore. Well, I disagree!

Going wireless is going against the masses, for now at least!

While the two might have gone their separate ways to launch a wireless earpiece that works impeccably in their own closed ecosystem, that’s the entire point — the closed environment doesn’t help, at all.

Remember the good ol’ days when any manufacturer would come up with a fine piece of headphone that supports any device with a 3.5mm headphone jack? Well, those seem to be hitting the past now.

Firstly, this will make players like Skullcandy, JBL or Sony a second-fiddle since they don’t have the same capabilities as these company-owned wireless earpieces.

Secondly, doing so not only drives away competition from the market but also forces a user to accept the available options — Airpods in Apple’s case and Pixel Buds — alongside Bose’s QC35s that support the Google Assistant.

It won’t be a big surprise if Samsung comes up with their own Bixby earbuds or Amazon decides to launch Alexa-powered earphones that will support all the devices with Alexa voice.

Parting Thoughts

While the real issue lies with a closed ecosystem for the audio earpieces, which usually offer limited functionality if used outside that ecosystem, the connectivity issues with Bluetooth might get better with Bluetooth 5 integration in most of the upcoming devices.

The exclusion of the 3.5mm headphone jack is not at all user-friendly. More so, since the most useful Google Pixel Buds features are only enabled in the closed ‘Pixel’ environment.

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Bike enthusiast, traveller, ManUtd follower, army brat, word-smith; Delhi University, Asian College of Journalism, Cardiff University alumnus; a journalist breathing tech these days.