Google’s New Pixel Buds Aim to Offer a Smarter Headphone Experience

During today’s keynote, Google took the wraps off a new set of earbuds the company calls Pixel Buds. They look like your average run-of-the-mill wireless headphones, but they’re actually a lot smarter than that.


According to Google, the Pixel Buds can be used to interact with the Google Assistant similar to how Apple’s AirPods can summon Siri. By touching and holding the right earbud, you can activate the Assistant and begin asking questions. The same type of gestures can be used to control music playback: swiping forward or backward controls volume, while tapping the bud can play or pause tracks. This way, Google says, you don’t need buttons on the wire.

But the Pixel Buds are a bit cooler than this. By using Google Translate, they can translate spoken words in real time. Google explains the feature below.

Say you’re in Little Italy, and you want to order your pasta like a pro. All you have to do is hold down on the right earbud and say, “Help me speak Italian.” As you talk, your Pixel phone’s speaker will play the translation in Italian out loud. When the waiter responds in Italian, you’ll hear the translation through your Pixel Buds. If you’re more of a sushi or French food fan, no need to worry—it works in 40 languages.


And of course, Google is using mainly fabrics and other materials to make the headphones comfy to wear for extended periods of time. The company also says they’re easy to pair, and all you have to do is open the case they come in near your Android 7.0 Nougat smartphone with Google Assistant and you’ll be asked if you’d like to pair them. Speaking of which, the case the Pixel Buds ship in can provide up to 24 hours of use, according to the company.


Google will sell the Pixel Buds starting this November for $159. They’re available to pre-order starting today. They come in three finishes: Just Black, Clearly White, and Kinda Blue to match the new Pixel 2. Canada, the U.K., Germany, Australia, and the US will all get the buds when they launch.