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Hype over Google Pixel Buds lost in translation

SINGAPORE – “Okay Google, help me say ‘Good morning’ in Malay.”

The Google Pixel Buds are available for S$238 in Just Black at Singtel Retail Shops and online from Wednesday (Dec 13). Photo: Low Youjin/TODAY

The Google Pixel Buds are available for S$238 in Just Black at Singtel Retail Shops and online from Wednesday (Dec 13). Photo: Low Youjin/TODAY

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SINGAPORE – “Okay Google, help me say ‘Good morning’ in Malay.”

I waited. And waited. Nothing happened.

After several attempts, it worked.

‘Selamat Pagi’, responded Google.

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One of the Google Pixel Buds’ key features is real-time translation. It claims to be able to translate 40 languages including Korean, Hungarian, Croatian and Norwegian, just to name a few.

Translation is mostly accurate – I tested Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Malay – but based on my experience, there was a lag of several seconds, so be prepared for awkward pauses when you are having a conversation with another person.

That said, the Google Translate dictionary may not be the most up to date with vocabulary. For example, when I tried translating “bubble tea” from Chinese to English, the Buds’ translation was “explosive drink”. It can be humorous if you are testing out the translation feature among friends, but it could spell trouble if you are trying to order bubble tea in London.

To use Google Pixel Buds’ translation feature, pair these wireless headphones, which comes in a charging case, with your mobile device. It will work with any Android device running on Android operating system 5.0 Lollipop or higher, or on iOS 10 or higher.

In my case, I was using a Google Pixel 2 XL phone paired via Bluetooth.

Once paired, viola! Start speaking to Google Assistant by pressing the right earbud.

Once you speak, Google Assistant will translate and “speak” out of the phone’s speaker in the chosen language. 

On the occasions when Google Assistant failed to cooperate – or just ignored my request – I had to open the Google Translate app on the phone and press the right side of the headphones to begin translating, which generally proved to be more effective.

Sound quality of the headphones is decent with a crisp output. The fit in the ear, however, can be tricky as I found myself having to adjust it every now and then for comfort. It probably would not be the best option for use while you are exercising.

Nonetheless, the headphones provide up to five hours of listening time with one charge. What’s more, a user can also get up to 24 hours of listening time as the charging case holds multiple charges.

Is it worth the buy? We will leave you to decide.

The Google Pixel Buds cost S$238 and are available in Just Black at Singtel online and retail stores from Wednesday (Dec 13), while consumers can preorder on Lazada.SG and receive their headphones as soon as Dec 26.

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