Google is making wireless headphones that are specifically designed to be the first and best option for people who buy Google phones — just like AirPods are designed for iPhones.
At Google’s second annual fall hardware gala this week, the company announced its first-ever set of headphones. They’re wireless earbuds, connected by a rope-like cable that goes behind your head or around your neck. They’ll cost $159 when they go on sale in November.
The new Pixel Buds borrow a lot of ideas from Apple’s AirPods:
they have a new, easier way to pair with your phone, they come in a little battery case, they use touch controls, and they have tight integration with an intelligent assistant.
On the other hand, Pixel Buds are neckbuds, not truly wireless earbuds. They lack some of the technical wow factor of the AirPods, like auto-detecting when they’re in your ear. The choices Google made with the design of Pixel Buds speak to Google’s emerging values when it comes to its hardware products: be pragmatic and lean on Google’s core technologies whenever possible.
Neckbuds aren’t cool, but having headphones sitting around your neck all the time is definitely convenient.
They may not look or feel just as great as AirPods — even though their basic functionality is nearly the same — but they open up many more possibilities for what’s possible thanks to Google’s ever smarter Assistant.