Pixel Bud Real-time Translation Now Available on all Google Assistant Headphones and Android Smartphones
The Made by Google hardware event in October 2017 had many important announcements. While the Google Home Mini was clearly the most important introduction as it has gone on to become Google’s top selling smart speaker, real-time language translation through the Pixel Buds wireless ear buds was easily the biggest story. The real-time translation feature enables one person to speak in one language and then have another listen to the translation in another language. It caused a lot of interest despite some awkward implementation requirements such as passing the earbuds back-and-forth between users. And, it was exclusive to Pixel Bud users.
Droid Life noticed an update to the Pixel Buds support page Friday that removes that Pixel Bud exclusive. A notice on the page now says, “Google Translate is available on all Assistant-optimized headphones and Android phones.” Droid Life reports that the previous wording said, “Google Translate on Google Pixel Buds is only available on Pixel phones.”
It appears that the support documentation on how to use the service may still require some updating. The instructions show how you can use the Google Translate app without Google Assistant on any Android smartphone and presumably for headphones as well. However, that still references Pixel Buds in the description. It is not clear whether all Google Assistant-enabled headphones are getting real-time translation where you can simply ask Assistant to help you with translation. That feature automatically launches the Google Translate app in translation mode. I assume this is now available on all devices since that was the real innovation. The Google Translate app for Android and iOS already handles these translation features in real-time but requires you to press the screen the start and stop speaking. Pixel Buds was simply making the process faster and easier to launch the app.
Smart Move by Google
Even though this update is a minor benefit to users, it is a smart move by Google. The feature was attractive to many users–particularly the overzealous tech industry media–and cloistering the ease-of-access solely within the modestly selling Pixel Buds was a recipe for low adoption. Now Google will have a chance to promote this feature once again (look we are writing about it here) and offer another reason why the Android and Google Assistant ecosystems have differentiated value from iOS and the market leading Air Pods.
Here is a handy reference that lists which languages are supported by the Google Translate app.