Google announced that the long-awaited Google Pixel Buds are now available today from the Google Play Store. Unlike the first-generation version of the accessory, which was wireless but featured a cable connecting the left and right earbuds, the second-generation version has individual left and right earbuds. That makes the new Pixel Buds more in line with the Apple AirPods and the Samsung Galaxy Buds.
The Google Pixel Buds are available in the U.S. for $179 in Clearly White
One feature, Adaptive Sound, adjusts the volume of the Pixel Buds to compensate for new and louder sounds in the background and returns the volume to normal once that sound has ended. UX engineer Frank Li says that "It works kind of like auto-brightness on your phone screen: It momentarily adjusts to the world around you to make the experience of using your device a little simpler." Basheer Tome, Senior Hardware Interface Designer says that "Adaptive Sound is perfect for those moments like when you’re steaming milk for a latte, or when you're washing your hands or the dishes. Those noises can eclipse your audio experience for a bit, until the latte, or your dishes are done."
To improve the user experience, sensors inside Pixel Buds can detect when your jaw is moving which means that you are on a phone call (or chewing bubble gum). This helps the device know when you're talking, and when combined with beamforming mics, it allows those using the Pixel Buds to hear the person on the other end of a phone call even when it is windy and noisy outside. And with so many people working from home, this is an important feature to have these days.
Google Assistant can be activated on the new Pixel Buds by saying the "Hey Google" or "OK Google" hotword. The Assistant will control music streaming on the Pixel Buds and can also read your notifications. If you need to reply to a text, Google Assistant will do it for you; all you need to do is ask. And if you're in a situation where a translator would be of some assistance, conversation mode provides translations in real-time. This is a big help when you're on vacation or a business trip overseas.
If you're concerned about losing one or more of your Pixel Buds, Google has a way to find them as long as they are nearby and still paired to your phone. On the Pixel Buds app, you can elect to have the Pixel Buds ring. You can choose to ring one earbud at a time to help you find the missing one. The noise must be pretty loud because Google warns that if you have one or both Pixel Buds in your ear and choose to have them ring, it could lead to hearing damage. The ringing won't stop until you touch the missing earbud.
The Pixel Buds are now available today from the Google Store in Clearly White for $179 and will run for five hours on a single charge; with the carrying case, you can use them for up to 24 hours without running out of battery life. With an IPX4 rating, the accessory is protected from sweat and splashes.
Google today launched a dedicated app in the Google Play Store for the Pixel Buds. The app allows users to toggle on or off certain settings including in-ear detection. The latter, when toggled on, will automatically play audio when the Pixel Buds are in the ear and pause it when the Pixel Buds are out of the ear. Other settings that can be customized in the app include controls for Google Assistant, Touch controls, and Adaptive Sound. The app also lists the battery level on each of the earbuds and the carrying case.
The app can be installed on any device that is running Android 6.0 or higher and can be found in the Google Play Store.