Lonely Planet Writer

Google's new headphones want to change the way we travel forever

Landing in a country where you do not know a single word of the native language can still be a daunting experience for even experienced travellers. And no amount of scrolling through a dictionary or guidebook will ever get you all the answers you need. Now, Google – who else? – are hoping to revolutionise the way we travel in the form of their newest set of headphones.

Google’s ear buds may be your new holiday essential. Image by Google

Their pixel buds will be like the Swiss army knife of headphones, not only letting you listen to your favourite music and watch your favourite videos, but also offering a translation service. The new Google Pixel Buds are wireless and integrated with Google Assistant to answer any questions that you ask. Adam Champy, the product manager for the new headphones, said they would provide “answers and intel that would make James Bond jealous”.

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Announcing their launch on the Google blog, he wrote: “[you can] touch and hold the right earbud to ask your Assistant to play music, make a phone call, or get directions, all without pulling out your phone. If you have any upcoming meeting or you’re waiting on a text from a friend, the Assistant can alert you to a calendar event or incoming message, and even read it to you if you can’t look at your phone at that moment.”

Communicating while travelling is about to become much easier.

Most futuristic of all however, is how the earbuds can make even the worst language student multilingual using Google Translate. Adam Champy explained: “it’s like you’ve got your own personal translator with you everywhere you go. Say you’re in Little Italy, and you want to order your pasta like a pro. All you have to do is hold down on the right earbud and say, ‘Help me speak Italian’. As you talk, your Pixel phone’s speaker will play the translation in Italian out loud. When the waiter responds in Italian, you’ll hear the translation through your Pixel Buds.”

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Of course, this being Google – it’s not just Italian, and forty languages, including French and Japanese, are all featured. The Pixel Buds are available in three colours and will go in sale in November for US$159.