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Why I’m buying the Pixel Buds and not the AirPods

Finally there’s a pair of wireless headphones that I want. Google’s Pixel Buds are being released to compete directly with Apple’s AirPods. When the AirPods arrived last year, I wasn’t interested. But I’m all about the Pixel Buds now.

Truth be told: I’m far from enthusiastic about audio-related products. The quality of sound you get from different headphones and speakers goes completely unnoticed by me most of the time. Yet I was very surprised by the Pixel Buds and immediately placed a pre-order. Google introduced its own wireless headphones that have high-end sound, the power of Google Assistant, and the ability to translate countless languages in real-time. Maybe it’s the technology lover in me. Or maybe this is what I’ve needed all along.

Here’s why Google has me sold on the Pixel Buds just hours after launching them.

They look good

Google really upped its game in 2016, and the same drive to create attractive hardware carried over into 2017. The company is designing products that look like they belong to the same family. It’s not in color schemes alone, either. Materials are overlapping between Google Home, Daydream View, and now the Pixel Buds.

Let’s be honest. The AirPods look like they’re from a distant future. The Pixel Buds, on the other hand, are modern and blend in with today’s style. The black cord between the two earpieces isn’t a plain piece of rubber. Google is using a material with texture there.

Both earpieces are capped by a color of your choice — Just Black, Clearly White, and Kinda Blue. Whatever your style is, the Pixel Buds can fit right in.

These also appear to be designed better than the majority of the earbuds I’ve tried over the last couple of years. I often find them to be uncomfortable or unable to stay in my ears for even a few minutes. The Pixel Buds’ earbuds seem large enough to fit into my ears but soft enough to remain cozy. While I won’t know until I try them on next month, I think the odds are in my favor. Anything has to be better than the awful $30 IFROGZ I tried recently, right? So I’ll just keep hoping the Pixel Buds don’t disappoint in comfort.

It puts Google Assistant in my ears

When Google first said its digital assistant would be coming to personal audio products, there was absolutely no excitement for me. Why would I need Google Assistant in my ears? Well, the more I thought about it, the more I realized I was being ridiculous. Having the power of Google Assistant one-on-one is actually invaluable.

I already have more than one Google Home in my house, and I’ll be getting a Google Home Mini soon. Being able to play music is my biggest use, though. Whether it’s through Google Home or my Pixel, I don’t like personal information from Google Assistant being shared aloud. There’s something about my schedule and messages being shared publicly that irks me. The Pixel Buds rid me of the frustration.

With Google’s wireless headphones, I can talk to Google Assistant and have responses heard by me alone. A simple tap on the touchpad will launch Google Assistant. If I do that, I can make requests and have information funneled into my ears privately. No one else will ever know what my mom’s loving messages say, and I’d prefer to keep it that way.

I’m a one-language kind of guy

Unfortunately I can only speak one language. Although I took French in high school (and part of college), it’s impossible for me to have a full conversation in anything other than English. Shame on me, I know. It’s even more upsetting because I live just outside of New York City, which is one of the country’s most diverse areas. People around here speak Spanish, Korean, Russian, and countless other languages. Me? If they’re not speaking English or elementary French, I’m lost.

The real-time translation you get from the Pixel Buds is insanely useful, especially for people like me. Google Translate is integrated into the device for communicating both ways. When someone is talking to me, I can have Google Assistant listen to what they’re saying and translate into English. Then, for them, I can speak and my phone’s speaker will return my message in their native language.

Seriously, we won’t be able to thank Google enough for this feature. It’ll save so many people the frustrations of language barriers. You could be like me trying to communicate in your own area or you could be traveling abroad and use the Pixel Buds to breeze right through.

The Pixel Buds are priced just right

Apple sells the AirPods for $159. The Pixel Buds happen to be priced at $159, too. It was wise for Google to do that since a product with as much technology as the Pixel Buds could cost at least $300.

Think about the other Google Assistant-ready device from Bose. Its QC35 II headphones are $349. Yes, Bose is a premium brand. But most of us don’t need something on that level. The $159 price tag for the Pixel Buds is very inviting for casual consumers. If Google advertises the Pixel Buds effectively, the company could create great interest in them due to the inclusion of Google Assistant.

Plus, with the move away from headphone jacks, Google needs to keep owners of its own products locked into its ecosystem. The Pixel Buds work with iOS, but it’s going to be rare for an owner of an iPhone to buy them. Owners of Android devices will see the Pixel Buds as an AirPods competitor, realize they’re not so expensive due to the packed-in technology, and pick them for listening to music and interacting with a best-in-class digital assistant.

Everything about the Pixel Buds makes them special. They appear to be well-made, willing to have a private conversation with me, do the talking for me, and don’t cost a fortune. It’s not a product I ever thought I wanted, but today I ordered the Pixel Buds.


Justin Herrick

Justin is easily attracted to power buttons. His interest in technology started as a child in the 1990s with the original PlayStation, and two...

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