The race between the two tech giants for seamless headphone pairing continues.
Apple and Google have both taken on the wireless headphone space with a Bluetooth-connected feature on their latest phones, but both products have similarities and striking differences. In the race to get rid of the wire–although Google’s product still has a woven cord to keep the buds together–and eliminate the headphone jack from the paired phone, the manufacturers might not have considered all the ramifications.
First, both buds have roughly five hours of battery life per charge, so forget listening to music on that long flight or car trip. While Apple’s AirPods fit wirelessly in your ear like a traditional ear bud, Pixel Buds actually sit outside your ear and rely on that woven cord to keep them close to your ear. It means a safer listening experience in terms of less potential damage to your hearing and less obliviousness to what’s going on around you, but for many listeners, that’s the whole point of putting in some earbuds.
It’s the future
Google does offer a “wave of the future” opportunity with their product: universal translator. Okay, so only 40 languages isn’t “universal,” but it’s closer than anything else we’ve got. Unfortunately, the Pixel Buds themselves aren’t producing the translation; you still have to use your Pixel 2 phone and a Wi-Fi connection to pull it off. Even more inconvenient, the other person needs to have their own Pixel 2 and Pixel Buds in order to keep the conversation going, or you have to disconnect the buds and simply use the phone on speaker to translate.
But the real news this week is in how the devices pair. Both Apple and Google are trying to outdo each other in terms of seamless, no-wait compatibility when pairing the device. No more opening up your settings, going to Bluetooth, searching for a compatible enabled device within range, etc. Now, simply sliding one of the few compatible brands of headphones near your phone should cause a popup to appear on the screen, giving you the option to pair the headphones with just a tap of your finger on the screen. Both companies are diligently working to encourage more headphone manufacturers to incorporate the functionality into their product so that smartphone owners have choices–and not just buds–when it comes to listening.