Pixel Envy

Written by Nick Heer.

Google’s Pixel Buds

Earlier this month, Google announced their wireless headphones. They’re $159, they look kinda cheap, they have a wire connecting them — so, wireless might be a little generous — and Google hasn’t announced when they’re actually being released. But the Pixel Buds have a really cool feature that blows me away. Valentina Palladino, Ars Technica:

But the most intriguing feature of the Pixel Buds is the integrated Google Translate feature. Demoed on stage at Google’s event today, this feature lets two Pixel Bud wearers chat in their native languages by translating conversations in real time. In the demo, a native English speaker and a native Swedish speaker had a conversation with each other, both using their native languages. Google Translate translated the languages for each user. There was barely any lag time in between the speaker saying a phrase and the Buds’ hearing those words and translating them into the appropriate language.

Watch Google’s demo of this feature and tell me that it doesn’t look like the future. It’s limited — both parties must be using Pixel Buds and, according to Nilay Patel, this feature only works when paired to the Google Pixel smartphone, so the likelihood that you’ll meet someone by chance who can use this feature is pretty remote — but even so, it’s impressive if this works as well in the real world as it does in Google’s demo.

Update: The Google Translate app seems to work even better than the Pixel Buds, and doesn’t require both parties to have a Pixel-specific hardware combination.