Hello, Google Pixel Buds (and real-time translation). Goodbye, headphone jack.
Hey, Google: Say it ain't so.
At a splashy event in San Francisco to unveil its latest generation of Pixel smartphones, Google debuted Google Pixel Buds, its own Bluetooth earbuds priced at $159.
Their biggest selling point of the Pixel Buds is that they come equipped with the smarts of Google Assistant (though they don't come with the purchase of a Pixel phone) and a really nifty feature: real-time translations of conversations through Google Translate in 40 languages.
The downside: Google has jettisoned the headphone jack on the Pixel, leaving just a USB-C data/charge port. If this sounds familiar, it's because the headphone jack is increasingly an endangered feature on smartphones, thanks in large part to Apple.
Apple began pushing people toward wireless earphones with the iPhone 7 and the introduction of AirPods, Bluetooth headphones that are not attached by a wire. You just pop each bud into your ear.
Apple wasn't the first to whack the decades-old technology but it was the first to have to explain it to millions of people. Apple exec Phil Schiller's rationale was widely mocked ("It comes down to one word: courage") as protests abounded on the Internet.
Many headphone-jack fans rejoiced when Google unveiled the Pixels last year, proudly declaring: "3.5mm headphone jack satisfyingly not new."
But now in an about face, Google has gone over to the other side, placing its bets on wireless audio.
Google Pixel Buds, which comes in the same colors as the Pixels, are wireless earbuds connected by a cable that can go behind your head or around your neck (so they are a little harder to misplace).
They have a control on the right bud that you can tap to play or pause music or answer phone calls, swipe to change volume or press to talk to Google Assistant. The Pixel Buds can alert you to new notifications and can read new messages to you.
Basically the Pixel Buds allow you to do stuff you'd do with your phone without ever having to look at your phone—and one really impressive trick: real-time translations of conversations.
The Pixel Buds hear you speak and your Pixel speaker plays the translation in another language. When the other person speaks, you hear the translation in your ear.
An onstage demo at Google's event Wednesday showed off a conversation in English and Dutch translated on the spot.
The Pixel Buds battery lasts five hours. The charging case holds four charges.
For those of you outraged by the jackphone-less Pixel, here's your consolation prize: The phone comes with an adapter.
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