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Google’s new Pixel Buds 2 aimed at challenging Apple’s AirPods

Google has announced the Pixel Buds 2, its first proper attempt to compete with the Apple AirPods for dominance of the true wireless earbuds market.

Launched alongside the Google Pixel 4 at Google’s much-anticipated Made by Google event in New York City on Tuesday, the Pixel Buds 2 are the successor to the original Pixel Buds, which debuted in October 2017.

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Right off the bat, an awful lot has changed. Let’s start with the design — unlike the original Pixel Buds, there’s no wire connecting the two Buds. They’re also a lot smaller, with an individual Bud sitting flush with your ear.

The software has had an update, too. Gone are the days of having to tap the Pixel Buds to fire up Google Assistant and take advantage of Google Translate. Now, everything is handled using your voice, à la the AirPods 2.

Just mumble, “OK, Google,” and Assistant will fire up. From here, you can instruct her to do everything from streaming a song through Play Music or Spotify to sending a message via Facebook Messenger or WhatsApp.

Corey Gaskin / Digital Trends

Best of all, the Pixel Buds’ Translate feature has been carried over to the Pixel Buds 2. It uses the built-in microphones to translate a foreign language in real time, in an effort to bridge the language gap while traveling abroad.

The Pixel Buds 2 are also decked out with long-range Bluetooth that can span three rooms indoors and an entire football field outdoors. This means you can leave your smartphone in a locker while working out, says Google.

You’ll also be getting five hours of continuous listening time from a single charge, with the AirPods-style Wireless Charging Case providing up to an additional 24-hours worth of use — that’s on par with the Apple AirPods 2.

The Pixel Buds 2 deliver “excellent sound quality,” according to Google, with the Buds sealing the ear for rich bass and clear highs, and a spatial vent underneath letting through an ample amount of environmental sound.

On the software side, the Pixel Buds 2 respond to your surroundings. There’s an optional feature called Adaptive Sound, which dynamically adjusts the volume as your move from the quiet of your home to a noisy subway.

Notably, when you’re on a call, beam-forming microphones focus on your voice while voice accelerometers detect speech through your jawbone — so a loud restaurant or a windy day won’t interrupt your conversation.

Pixel Buds 2 will launch in 2020 for $179.

Wondering how the Google Pixel Buds 2 compare to the market leader that is the Apple AirPods? Wonder no more. We’ve pit them against each other in an early, specs-only comparison.

Missed the rest of the announcements from Google’s October 15 event? You can catch up here.

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