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Google’s most revolutionary feature in years is now available on all Assistant-enabled headphones

Published Oct 15th, 2018 8:37AM EDT
Google Pixel Buds Real-Time Translation

Google is devoting a tremendous amount of resources into expanding its lineup of devices and truly becoming a hardware company. The company’s new Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL flagship smartphones are set to be released later this week, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Google’s hardware efforts. The company makes media streaming devices, smart speakers, home hubs, laptop computers, tablets, mesh Wi-Fi systems, smart thermostats, home security cameras, and plenty more.

But Google is and will always be a software and solutions company first and foremost. Well, it’ll always primarily be an advertising company, but the company’s software is what makes its ad platform so desirable. Software is what helped Google become the behemoth it is today, and it continues to out-innovate most rivals at an impressive pace. Now, one of the company’s most innovative features in years is expanding to new hardware.

Last year ahead of the holidays, Google launched a pair of wireless earphones called Pixel Buds. If we’re being perfectly frank, they weren’t really that impressive when it comes to sound quality or battery life. If we’re being even more frank, they were incredibly ugly and were way too large to not look silly on most people. But the star of the show wasn’t the sound quality, battery life, or design. It was a revolutionary feature called Google Translate.

With the accompanying Google Translate app installed on a connected phone, Google’s Pixel Buds are capable of translating more than 40 different spoken languages in real time. Think about the potential: two people wearing Pixel Buds could speak to each other in entirely different languages, face to face, and yet understand each other even if they don’t understand a single word of another language. Talk about breaking down barriers.

The feature doesn’t work perfectly, of course, but it’s a very strong start. But there was another obvious limitation: it only worked if the people on both ends of the conversation had Pixel Buds. Since the headphones aren’t very popular, that’s not a very likely scenario. Of course there is something that could make this great feature far more useful, and that’s expanding it to other headphones. Now, it looks like that’s exactly what Google is doing.

As spotted by Android news blog Droid Life, Google’s Pixel Buds support page was updated over the weekend with an interesting new note. “Google Translate is available on all Assistant-optimized headphones and Android phones,” the page now reads. It continues, “The Google Assistant on Google Pixel Buds is only available on Android and requires an Assistant-optimized Android device and data connection.”

There are still plenty of limitations, but this fantastic feature is now available to plenty more people thanks to this update. Apart from the Pixel Buds and the wired Google headphones included in the box with the new Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL, Google’s real time translation feature now also works with plenty more headphones like the JBL Everest 110GA earbudsBose QuietComfort 35 Wireless Noise Cancelling headphones, Sony’s WH1000XM2 headphonesJabra Elite 65e wireless earbudsSony WI-1000X noise cancelling earbuds, and plenty more.

Zach Epstein
Zach Epstein Executive Editor

Zach Epstein has been the Executive Editor at BGR for more than 10 years. He manages BGR’s editorial team and ensures that best practices are adhered to. He also oversees the Ecommerce team and directs the daily flow of all content.

Zach first joined BGR in 2007 as a Staff Writer covering business, technology, and entertainment. His work has been quoted by countless top news organizations, and he was recently named one of the world's top 10 “power mobile influencers” by Forbes. Prior to BGR, Zach worked as an executive in marketing and business development with two private telcos.