Google announced its second-generation Assistant headphones last October, but set retail availability for spring 2020. After some false starts, the new Google Pixel Buds are now available to purchase from the US Google Store.
Compared to the 2017 model, Google’s second iteration is truly wireless with no fabric cord connecting the earbuds. The touch-sensitive surface on both earbuds are still round, accepting swipes, taps, and long-presses:
- Single tap: Play/pause
- Double tap: Next track, reject calls, or stop Assistant
- Triple tap: Previous track
- Swipe forward: Raise volume
- Swipe backward: Lower volume
- Press and hold: Check notifications or activate Assistant
Scanning thousands of ears for reference, Google built a “three point anchor system” to keep Pixel Buds flush and secured “even when working out.” It starts with a “stabilizer arc” that aligns to the outer curvature of your ear, while the “retention curve” matches the ear’s bottom valley. Interchangeable soft-fit eartips round out that design, while the “spatial vent” prevents the “plugged-ear feeling” and lets users hear their surroundings.
Inside, Google packed 12mm dynamic speaker drivers and sweat/water resistance (IPX4). Dual beam-forming microphones in each bud work to suppress background noise, while a voice accelerometer detects speech through the vibrations of your jawbone. IR proximity sensors work to detect when buds are in your ear for automatic play/pause.
There are 5 hours of listening (2.5 hours of talk) time on a single charge, while the egg-shaped charging case provides 24 hours. A 10-minute charge in the case provides 2 hours of listening (1-hour talk) time. Wireless charging compliments USB-C, with the sleek package a great improvement over the previous bulbous, fabric-covered case.
Google says the Pixel Buds will remain connected even if your paired Bluetooth 4.0+ device is “three rooms away indoors or a football field-distance away outdoors.” Android 6.0+ phones benefit from Fast Pair, Find My Device, and a notification that lists the battery percentage for each component. That said, they’ll work as regular headphones on iOS and most computers.
The Assistant experience starts with “Hey Google” for quick commands and real-time translation, while Adaptive Sound automatically adjusts volume as you move from quiet to loud environments (and then back).
They are available for $179 in four colors, though the portion inside your ear is black: Oh So Orange, Clearly White, Quite Mint, and Almost Black.
As of today, the Pixel Buds are only available in white on the Google Store. Other colors and countries will be added “in the coming months.” AT&T, Best Buy, Target (coming early May), T-Mobile, U.S. Cellular, Verizon, and Walmart will also be selling the Google headphones.
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