Google Pixel Buds 2: Everything you need to know

Google announced its Pixel Buds 2 true wireless earbuds in New York City on October 15, 2019, alongside the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL, Pixelbook Go, Nest Wi-Fi, and Nest Mini.  And while a lot of those products are already here, the Pixel Buds 2 remain a bit of a mystery.

Here’s everything you need to know Google’s first proper Apple AirPods rival, including what new features it brings to the table, how much it costs, and when it will hit the shelves.

Coming soon?

Even though Google has officially canceled its annual Google I/O conference, which was scheduled for May 12-14, Google will likely find a way to communicate all of its planned announcements through other means. It is widely expected that the official release of the Pixel Buds 2 — which are officially named “Pixel Buds” — will be among those announcements.

How soon can we expect that announcement? Perhaps any day now: Abt Electronics posted a pre-order page for the new Pixel Buds (which it then promptly removed), according to Android Police. Though this isn’t the first time we’ve seen an inadvertent pre-order page for the Pixel Buds 2  — B&H Photo put one up earlier this year — it’s a sign we’re getting closer to a real launch date.

A recently spotted wireless charging certification document for the Pixel Buds 2 suggests that the new true wireless earbuds are indeed very close to being ready for their retail debut.

What can we expect?

Right off the bat, the Pixel Buds 2 is leaps and bounds ahead of the original Pixel Buds, which debuted back in October 2017. Google went back to the drawing board and came up with a new design — scrapping the frustrating wires that tethered the two Buds together on the inaugural model, while also introducing a slimmer, more discreet body that sits flush with the ear. 

A three-point anchor system is supposed to make the Pixel Buds 2 both more comfortable and more secure than their predecessors.

OK, Google …

But that’s just scraping the surface. The bulk of the changes Google made took place under the hood. The most notable of which is the omission of the need to tap the Pixel Buds whenever you want to interact with Google Assistant. Now, everything is handled using your voice. Just say “OK, Google” and Assistant will fire up, ready and waiting to take your command.

While Google didn’t dive too deep into the various tasks Assistant can complete through the Pixel Buds 2, it did note that the fantastic Translate feature that debuted on the Pixel Buds has been carried over using the built-in microphones to translate a foreign language in real-time. Google Assistant should be able to stream music, search Google, and send messages as well.

Go long!

Notably, Google has decked the Pixel Buds 2 out with long-range Bluetooth that can span the distance of an entire football field. This means you can leave your shiny new Google Pixel 4 in the locker at the gym and still listen to your favorite tunes while you’re working out, eliminating the discomfort of having a huge slab of glass and metal digging into you while pumping iron.

That same wireless system will be easier to set up, according to Google, using a one-tap setup procedure that sounds like it was inspired by Apple’s AirPods.

Corey Gaskin / Digital Trends

Google says the Pixel Buds 2 will last for five consecutive hours on a single charge, before needing to take a quick dip in the AirPods-style Wireless Charging Case, which is home to enough juice for an additional 24-hours worth of use on par with the Apple AirPods 2. Plus, the Charging Case can be dropped on a Qi-enabled mat to replenish its reserve. No cables needed.

Related

Being earbuds, the sound factor is just as important as battery life, design, and features. Google assures us the Pixel Buds 2 won’t disappoint, describing the audio as “excellent”.  The pulled Abt Electronics product description said the buds contain “custom-designed 12 mm dynamic speaker drivers.” Google claims the Buds seal the ear to deliver rich bass and clear highs, while a spatial vent underneath lets through an ample amount of environmental sound to make them safe to wear in public.

Did you hear that?

Best of all, there’s an optional feature called Adaptive Sound baked in that dynamically adjusts the volume as your move from the quiet of your home to a noisy subway. And when you’re on a call, beam-forming microphones focus on isolating your voice, while voice accelerometers detect speech through your jawbone in a bid to stop background noise from being transmitted.

Pixel Buds 2 will launch later this year for $179.

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