As rumored, Google just dropped a little hint about its next-generation Pixel Buds. The company unveiled a pair of fully wireless earbuds following the release of its promising, but fairly disappointing, tethered earbuds. The new headphones are certainly nice-looking, maintaining the same pastel color scheme it offers on its Pixel handsets.
The headphones are still a long ways out, arriving in spring of next year. Clearly the company wanted to let the world know that it still has a vested interest in the category, even as the likes of Apple, Samsung and Sony have taken most of the air out of the room. The headphones use long-range Bluetooth wireless, maintaining a connection up to three rooms away indoors and a full football field from its source when outside.
The on-board mics give the Pixel Buds adaptive sound, adjusting based on the wearer’s environment. The mics also focus on the speaker during a phone conversation, while helping to remove ambient sound like the wind. The battery should get five hours on a charge, with a full 24 hours in the included battery case. The case looks a bit like a streamlined version of the one that comes with Apple’s AirPods, though thankfully not as large as, say, the one that comes with the Beats version.
When they arrive next year, the new Pixel Buds will run $179 — not a bad price, particularly if these live up to the (admittedly vague) promises made at today’s event. Once again, the company is focused on software here — not unlike Microsoft’s recently announced Surface earbuds. Though Google’s offerings, including Maps and translate, are likely far more useful on a pair of headphones than, say, Office functionality.
Perhaps second time is the charm here. And, admittedly, the wireless earbud market is significantly more mature than it was when the original Pixel Buds debuted. That means Google’s got a better framework to work with here — but it also means that the company’s got a lot of competition, as well, if it wants to be the Android version of AirPods.