Google’s Pixel Buds Aren’t Even Close to Being Good


All images: Adam Clark Estes

There was at all times one thing off in regards to the Pixel Buds. Google launched the good, wi-fi headphones a full 12 months after Apple launched the AirPods. But the Pixel Buds aren’t precisely wi-fi, and so they’re not precisely good, both. In truth, after spending a number of days with the product, I’m ready to say it: the Pixel Buds suck.

The Pixel Buds suck, however they shouldn’t.


What is it?

Wireless earbuds for Android telephones


Easy entry to Assistant

No like

Basically the whole lot else

Google is a remarkably monumental tech firm that’s made some neat lately. The Google Home and its new junior version, the Google Home Mini, are giving the Amazon Echo a run for its cash. The Daydream headset is a delightfully completely different tackle digital actuality. And regardless of some hiccups within the first technology, the Pixel 2 is a reasonably nice smartphone. In mild of all this success, I anticipated to be blown away by the $160 Pixel Buds, which function Google Assistant on demand in addition to real-time overseas language translation.

That didn’t occur. The Pixel Buds confused me as quickly as I opened the field. They’re wi-fi earbuds, however they’re not really wi-fi—there’s a twine connecting them collectively. And though they’re larger than the AirPods, the Pixel Buds function the identical five-hour battery life. They additionally are available a charging case, but it surely feels flimsy, like a takeout container. The case and earbuds combo is so unintuitive that Google consists of directions on learn how to wrap the wire across the case so that it’ll shut. The firm even despatched me a gif to make it further clear:


Image: Google

The confusion didn’t cease with these little particulars. The Pixel Buds use a brand new, proprietary Bluetooth trick to make it simpler to pair the machine to your cellphone. Guess what? It’s not that straightforward. When you do the preliminary arrange with the earbuds, it’s a must to put the case subsequent to your cellphone, open it, and hope that your cellphone acknowledges the sign. This labored tremendous after I paired the earbuds to a Samsung Galaxy S8, however I quickly discovered that not all Pixel Buds options can be found on the Samsung machine. In order to reap the benefits of the Pixel Buds’ capacity to translate overseas languages in actual time, it’s a must to use them with a Google Pixel or Pixel 2 smartphone. When I attempted connecting the Pixel Buds to a Pixel 2 to check these options, the cellphone wouldn’t connect with the earbuds.

I’d wish to say that utilizing the Pixel Buds was maddening or irritating. That wouldn’t be exact, although. It’s complicated. I lastly obtained the earbuds to pair with the Pixel 2, however solely after emailing Google and getting directions for a reset course of that concerned a button contained in the case that I hadn’t even realized existed till the corporate pointed it out. You can solely join the Pixel Buds to a single Android or iOS 10 machine at a time, and you’ll’t join them to a pc or perhaps a Chromebook. By the way in which, the Google Assistant capabilities solely work on Android Marshmallow or greater, and the quick pairing function solely works on Android Nougat or greater.

If Apple merchandise are so self explanatory your grandparents can use them, this Google product is so counterintuitive that determining the nuances looks like fixing a trigonometry downside.

I did get the interpretation function to work, by the way in which, and it’s simply as complicated as the whole lot else in regards to the Pixel Buds. You’d badume that you can simply faucet the precise earbud and ask Google to translate what you’re listening to, but it surely’s extra sophisticated than that. You do must faucet the earbud and ask Google to translate, however then it’s a must to open up the Google Translate app and maintain your cellphone in entrance of your overseas language-speaking buddy. And, after all, your cellphone have to be a Google Pixel or Pixel 2.

The Pixel Buds play music too, and it’ll sound okay. I’d examine the standard to the wired Apple EarPods. Like the EarPods, the Pixel Buds have two audio system—one dealing with ahead and one straight into your head. Also just like the EarPods, the Pixel Buds relaxation in your ear relatively than create a agency seal in your ear cbad, and I ought to level out that the earbud itself is sort of huge, not good for teeny ears. The resultant sound is crisp however surprisingly one-dimensional. The vocals on “Ready for the Floor” by Hot Chip come by way of cleanly, however the entire track sounds limp, for the reason that Pixel Buds produce so little bbad. “Take Me Home, Country Roads” by John Denver sounds terrific, though that track at all times sounds nice to me.

Audio is middling, however the Assistant stuff is cool. The proper earbud incorporates a touch-sensitive floor that allows you to play or pause the music, regulate the amount, beckon the Google Assistant (in case your cellphone is new sufficient), be taught the time, and take heed to your newest notifications. It’s somewhat bit too slick, although, as I discovered myself by accident hitting play any time I touched the earbuds. I’d pause my music, for example, take the buds out of my ears, after which inadvertently hit play once more after I set them on the desk. It was complicated!

And but, like a lighthouse blinking on a faraway shore, I feel Google is as much as one thing good. The concept behind the Pixel Buds is interesting, though this preliminary implementation is a little bit of a multitude. Tapping your ear to get a readout of your newest notifications is a cool concept. You may even use Assistant to ship a textual content message or discover a close by espresso store. The AirPods do stuff like this with Siri, too, however in my expertise, Google is simply higher at pure language processing. As I discovered from testing the Google Home, you may simply discuss to the robotic, and the robotic is aware of what you need. And at greatest, the Pixel Buds are somewhat Google Home in your head.

I feel Google jumped the gun on this product. The firm introduced the product in a whirlwind of bulletins final month, a splashy occasion that included some issues that had been clearly experiments. (We’re you, Google Clips.) The Pixel Buds really feel like an imperfect model of what Google was actually making an attempt to do. In a really perfect world, that pesky wire that connects the 2 earbuds and requires particular directions wouldn’t exist. If Google actually needed to promote probably the most earbuds to the most individuals, the Pixel Buds would work equally properly with any machine, together with Chromebooks and laptops. Heck, baduming Google values consumer expertise, the earbuds would be capable to connect with a couple of machine at a time.

When I step again and badume laborious in regards to the Pixel Buds, my head explodes. Not in a great way. It’s completely insane that the one really distinctive factor Google did with the Pixel Buds, on demand language translation, is a factor that can solely work with Google’s personal smartphone. I’d anticipate this shit from Apple, positive. But Google is the champion of the open platform. Android is meant to be the egalitarian various to the iOS fiefdom. Now it looks like Google is walling in its personal kingdom.

I’d be much less grumpy if the Pixel Buds value $60, however they value $160, the identical value as AirPods. For that value, you may as properly spend $200 and get Sony’s really wi-fi earbuds, and even $250 on the Bose Soundsport Free, each of which work with Google Assistant. Or you can simply purchase AirPods. In a surprising plot twist, the Apple earbuds are extra versatile than the Google earbuds and truly work with Android gadgets in addition to laptops and different Bluetooth-enabled devices. Why anybody would purchase a wi-fi gadget that solely labored with particular gadgets is past me. Unfortunately, the Pixel Buds are presently bought out, so even should you really wish to purchase these crappy issues, you’ll have to affix a ready checklist.

Good luck with that, Google. Or really, higher luck subsequent time.


  • Google’s reply to Apple’s AirPods on the identical $160 value level
  • Terrible consumer expertise as a consequence of poorly conceived design
  • Only connects to sure Android gadgets
  • Cool translation function solely works with Google Pixel telephones
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