Your holiday wish list just got one item longer.
Google held its annual hardware event Wednesday, at which it unveiled its newest Pixel and Google Home, among other products. But, it was an item revealed late in the presentation that might have been the most mind-blowing.
Google's Pixel Buds are essentially the company's answer to Apple's AirPods. They're earbuds that connect to a smartphone--in this case, the Pixel--via Bluetooth. At $159, they're priced exactly the same as AirPods.
But, because they pair with the Pixel smartphone, and thus Google's software, the headphones can do something Apple's headphones can't do: Translate spoken language in real time.
The operation is performed using Google Translate, which is built into the Google Pixel. The wearer taps the right earbud and says something like, "Help me speak Spanish," and Google gets to work. A person standing nearby can speak out loud in Spanish, and the earbuds will give the wearer the English translation in her ear. She can then hold down her right earbud and speak in English, and her phone will project the Spanish translation from the Pixel's speaker. The live translation begins only a second or two after the person stops speaking.
Google demoed the technology in action on Wednesday, and the earbuds quickly translated a conversation between English and Swedish--to much applause from the audience. The platform operates in 40 different languages. That's essentially like having a translator that can speak in 1,600 different language combinations right in your ear.
The Pixel Buds can be used with the iPhone too, but only Pixel owners will be able to use tools like Translate and the Google Assistant.
The earbuds don't have any buttons--you can adjust the volume by swiping or change music tracks by swiping. They connect to your phone wirelessly, but the two earbuds are tethered together by a cloth-like cord.
The Pixel Buds come with a case that's also used to charge them. According to a blog post on Google's site, they can play music for about 24 hours without needing a charge.They will be available in November, conveniently just in time for your holiday shopping.