Google's revamped wireless headphones are here, and they're truly wireless this time, which means no more fussing with a wee strip of cord.
They're aptly named the Pixel Buds 2, and they will retail for $179 when they hit shelves in spring next year. The new buds boast a re-engineered fit — Google says it studied thousands of ears to create a design that would feel comfortable for as many ears as possible.
Google Pixel Buds 2
The Pixel Buds 2 come in a much rounder carrying case that stores extra battery, much like the Apple AirPods. Google says with the Pixel Buds 2, "the experience comes to you." There's hands-free access to Google Assistant triggered via voice without the need to whip out a smartphone — just say "Hey Google" to make various commands, easy as that. Apple similarly added hands-free Siri commands to its revamped AirPods this year.
Long-range Bluetooth will let the Pixel Buds 2 remain connected to a smartphone even if the user isn't carrying it on-hand. When used inside, they can stay connected up to three rooms away, and up to an entire football field outside, according to Google. The Pixel Buds 2 will work with Pixel handsets and other devices running at least Android 6.0. They can be paired with a single tap on compatible devices. They'll connect with Bluetooth 4.0+ laptops, tablets, and iOS devices, too.
Google says it employed an "intricate origami" design to fit all the technology inside the Pixel Buds 2. They sit flush when inserted into ears and can automatically detect when they're firmly planted. They feature touch controls for playing, pausing, and adjusting volume. The Pixel Buds 2 will last five hours on a single charge, and up to 24 hours thanks to the extra juice the carrying case provides.
Google isn't kidding when it says "intricate" — each bud features an airtight tip seal to emphasize audio when listening to music or making calls, and on top of that, a vent on the bottom that lets through environmental sound. They also feature adaptive sound, letting them automatically raise or lower volume depending on the noise level of one's surroundings.
Each bud contains two microphones that focus on the user's voice during calls. There's also a built-in accelerometer that can detect speech by looking at jaw vibration and ensure the user is heard clearly even in tricky situations. The Pixel Buds 2 will also be a great option for those who want to work out a sweat, as they're sweat and water resistant.
Google Pixel Buds 2 vs Apple AirPods
The question is, though, are they better than the Apple AirPods 2? Both these have already overlapping feature lists, if not entirely similar ones. Google Assistant will definitely give the Pixel Buds 2 an edge, though, as the current iteration of Siri, even with all the improvements, still can't match Google's voice assistant cleverness. They're priced similarly and have similar feature sets, so it will likely come down to how well their individual voice control operations work. Google will probably kill it in this department, but time will tell.