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Google just released its first pair of wireless earbuds, but they’re more than just your average pair of in-ear speakers. Google’s Pixel Buds, as they’re called, are part music delivery device and part translator.
With a Google Pixel handset in your pocket, you can tap and hold the Pixel Buds’ right earbud to activate Google Assistant. From there, you can ask any query you’d normally ask the digital assistant. Perhaps most usefully though, you can utilize its Google Translate capabilities. If you’re traveling abroad, you’ll be able to discreetly and quickly tutor yourself on how to ask a question, reducing the chances that you’ve completely botched the translation. The Pixel Buds will work wirelessly with other handsets—just without this translation feature.
Other than that, the Pixel Buds are quite similar to Apple’s wireless AirPods. They deliver up to five hours of playback on one charge, and they charge inside a cloth-covered charging case that holds 24 hours-worth of listening time. It also wirelessly connects to your phone similar to the AirPods: Just open the charging case next to your Pixel phone (or Android phone running Marshmallow or newer).
Unlike Apple’s earbuds, though, the Pixel Buds aren’t totally wireless. They’re connected via cord that wraps behind your neck. The piece that is visible from the outside of your ear is also larger, like a round quarter-size button.
In addition to tapping the right earbud to access Google Assistant, you can use other gestures, too. For example, you can swipe it to change music tracks, adjust volume levels, or tap to answer phone calls.
Google’s Pixel Buds are available now for $159 through the Google Store. They come in three colors—Just Black, Clearly White, and Kinda Blue—to match your new Pixel 2 phone. The blue model ships in six to seven weeks, however.
Christina Bonnington is a tech reporter who specializes in consumer gadgets, apps, and the trends shaping the technology industry. Her work has also appeared in Gizmodo, Wired, Refinery29, Slate, Bicycling, and Outside Magazine. She is based in the San Francisco Bay Area and has a background in electrical engineering.