Google’s new earbuds act as two-way translators in your ear

If you have a Google Pixel phone, you’ll soon be able to speak 40 languages thanks to the new earbuds the firm announced last week

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IF YOU have a Google Pixel phone, you will soon be able to speak 40 languages. All you need is a pair of the earbuds Google announced last week in San Francisco. These can be used to make phone calls and listen to music – but they also provide on-demand two-way translation.

To talk in one of the supported languages, you use the earbuds to access Google Assistant and the Google Translate app. Pressing on the earbud and saying “let me speak German”, for example, initiates translation of your speech into German, playing the results on the phone’s speakers. Translated replies are heard via the earbuds.

“It’s like you’ve got your own personal translator with you everywhere you go,” wrote Pixel Buds product manager Adam Champy in a blog post. It’s not quite your own – the actual translation happens in a Google data centre – but the voice speaking the translated words is processed on your phone.

The earbuds, which will ship next month for £159 in the UK, aren’t yet available for testing, a Google spokesperson told New Scientist. That means it’s not yet clear how comfy the earbuds are or whether their 5-hour battery life is adequate.

Existing tech already does a similar job, including the Google Translate app and Skype Translator. So if the earbuds don’t improve on the experience, they might not stick around.

This article appeared in print under the headline “Google’s in-ear translator buddy”

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