back to article Hey bud – how the heck does that stay in your ear? Google emits latest Pixel Buds, plus extra bloatware if you have the matching phone

Google has released its second-stab at the hearable market — the AirPod-style, earplug-looking Pixel Buds wireless earphones. Available to order on the Google Store for $179 (roughly £140), the Pixel Buds come with gesture recognition and a "three-point anchor system" designed to keep the pricey kit from falling out on a run …

  1. anthonyhegedus Silver badge

    It would be nice if some of their pixel phones implemented Bluetooth properly! My son has a pixel 3 that keeps telling him that Bluetooth is off ten times a minute, and won't turn off!

  2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

    It's installed on my phone even though I have never used earphones with the phone - but the app is busy using battery and memory. They need to rename it to the Google Toilet Paper App and then people will stop complaining.

    I think that the entire app update process is part of Google's user monitoring - if your phone updates then Google know who's up and running and the update process can share a little data while nobody's looking, we just think it's "security" but most Google apps update every couple of days - could they really be written that badly that an update is needed that often?

    1. jake Silver badge

      "could they really be written that badly that an update is needed that often?"

      Of course! It's the modern agile DevOps way, and is for your own good. Get with the program, comradeconsumer, or you'll be asked to report to the reprocessing center.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        re: It's the modern agile DevOps way

        Of course bad engineers haven't gone away becuase of Agile, likewise bad managers, so it may seem to you that Agile delivers flaky software that needs constant updates.

        Done properly Agile delivers increments every sprint that may include some bug fixes but predominantly consist of new features. It should bring the most essential features online first, focussing on the value to the business and allowing the business to feedback to the Agile team. If you're been doing all the Agile ceremonies and not delivering quality software then you're doing Agile wrong.

        That's fine, it takes a long time to get to the point where you understand Agile enough to be able to consistently produce quality work but it is achievable and when your team does start consistently delivering because they're working together well you'll understand what all the fuss is about.

        I've worked in IT for 30 years, the last 5 I've been at places that claimed to do Agile but it's only the last but one place that actually understood it and managed to use it properly. Agile is really difficult (mainly because it sounds simple but doesn't work unless the team fundamentally change their behaviour) but compared to the old way of doing things is far superior and delivers better software.

  3. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Users can expect to get five hours of playtime between charges, or 2.5 hours of talk-time. That's roughly on-par with Apple's AirPods Pro.

    At that price? For something almost designed to get lost? No chance! Also, how do they handle background noise for the wearer when they're out running? I'm pretty impressed with my Sony's handling of this when out cycling. Yes, it means that I don't get the highest fidelity but I'm much more concerned about hearing traffic and announcements around me!

    1. Sir Gaz of Laz

      The Verge review states they let in "a fair bit of ambient noise" by design:

      So in theory, should be safer for cycling, running etc.

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Yes, but my Sony's are much cheaper and have better battery life and I really don't mind cable between the earpieces, though it could more stable to stop in catching in m jersey when I twist my neck.

  4. Pascal Monett Silver badge
    Thumb Down

    "A voice accelerometer" ?

    What a fancy name for a microphone.

  5. doublelayer Silver badge

    An open letter to Google

    Hey guys. I need to alert you to something about your users. Well, specifically the users of your phones. They understand how to type words in a search box and press an install button. They've got this. So next time you release an app, you can count on them to go to the store and install it if they have any intention to use it. If they don't want to use it, they won't bother, but even if you push it to their phone, they still won't bother. They'll just ignore the icon or try to uninstall it. The only apps you need to preinstall for people are the ones needed to use core functionality. A keyboard, the store app itself, a file browser, and settings would probably be enough. Some basic utilities wouldn't be bad either. An app for managing devices they don't have though, not so much.

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: An open letter to Google

      "The only apps you need to preinstall for people are the ones needed to use core functionality."

      That's exactly what they install, silly!

      Unfortunately for the users, it's the go ogle definition of 'core functionality", not the definition of the ownerrenter of the hardware. But that's OK, its for your own good, consumer, go ogle has spoken.

      (Feel free to substitute Cupertino or Redmond in the above. They all do it.)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: An open letter to Google

      Clearly you don't have a Pixel phone, and don't know what you are commenting.

      For owners of Pixel phones, the app is native to the Bluetooth settings, it's essentially a settings management update rather than a app. There's no app icon or anything. For non-Pixel owners, it's an app that manages Bluetooth settings.

      If you are a Pixel owner and don't use Pixel Buds, nothing to do, just don't add the update. If you have another Android phone and don't use the buds, there's nothing to do.

      Not that complicated really.

      1. doublelayer Silver badge

        Re: An open letter to Google

        You are correct. I don't own a Pixel. And I evidently misinterpreted part of the article. But not the part where random code was pushed to all Pixels, without an icon, for one company's devices. Do other manufacturers push their device-control apps? No, they don't. They make sure to tell their users to install those apps. It works great.

        1. This post has been deleted by its author

        2. Xenofastiq

          Re: An open letter to Google

          I mean, I'm very sure Apple does something very similar with their whole AirPod stuff, except those things come through system updates, so people end up just seeing them as "added features". But because Google decides to update this thing as if it were an app on the Play Store, suddenly it's not just a feature being added. It really isn't an issue whatsoever when all it is, is a damn update to the Bluetooth stuff. And plus, that "app" had actually been around around for quite a long while anyways, except it was just hidden. They just pulled a switch, and released an update for it.

  6. jelabarre59 Silver badge

    Stay in my ears????

    I'm sure they'd stay in my ears just about as well as the Apple ones, which is to sat NOT AT ALL. I need to have ones with flexible-enough rubber cushions that they can be wedged in,, or they have to have something that hooks over the earlobes and goes around the back of my head to the other one. And tiny little things the size of a used piece of chewing gum? Yeah, that'll be lost instantly. I need a wire connecting the two so I have a likely chance of finding one side if I can manage to find the other.

    Earbuds that can be lost, won't fit in my ears, and rely on flakey BT sync. I think they have the decimal point in the wrong place; should be two spaces to the left..

    As for the colour names? I think Ford was far ahead of them in 1970, when the Ford Maverick came in "Anti-Establish Mint, Hulla Blue, Original Cinnamon, and Freudian Gilt (gold)".

    1. jake Silver badge

      Re: Stay in my ears????

      "I'm sure they'd stay in my ears just about as well as the Apple ones, which is to sat NOT AT ALL."

      You're obviously not bolting them in right. Have you upgraded to the new version of Apple's rivet nuts yet?

  7. Sampler

    Wow, I got some similar looking ear phones from Amazon for sixty bucks (Australian, so that's like fourty American) and they have a seven hour playtime (though advertised 6) and I've used them for about talking for about four hours one evening and they were still going.

    How can some no name (SoundPEATS) cheap Chinese imitation company manage to pinch out something that runs longer than the vast resources of Google could come up with?

    I mean, they're not great, I'm not here trying to say you should get them instead, the bass is a little light and the microphones could be a lot better, but, they're cheap and they do the job - seemingly longer than both Google and Apple can?

    1. Xenofastiq

      Maybe they can do it because they don't nearly the same amount of hardware and features that the Pixel Buds have? I mean, sure, those features aren't gonna be for everybody, but okay. They're not meant to be for everybody. But good luck trying to ring your cheap earbuds if you lose one. Good luck trying to use the "Hey Google" hotword to activate your assistant on your bud if you need it. And ofc, good luck trying the different gestures on the cheap bud without a touch pad. All I'm saying is, the cheaper ones have less stuff to drain it's battery. And if lasting a while is what matters most to you, great. Stick to that

  8. llaryllama


    I have a love/hate relationship with wireless earphones in general. I have gone through 3 pairs of powerbeats from 2 different design iterations and the buttons stop working on all of them after a few months. I tried a few different true wireless earbuds including Apple's and they all suck. Terrible battery life and constant sync problems between the two ears especially in busy places where I'm most likely to use them (like the gym).

    Currently I'm using Sony wireless earphones that are almost perfect but have terrible battery life and even more terrible power management software. Tap the power button, earphones tell you there is "about 50% remaining". 20 minutes later "low battery, switching off". But they have really nice noise cancelling including an ambient noise microphone for outdoor safety, sound quality is great and I love the way are designed with a neckband and a wire for each ear (feel like traditional earphones but stops me losing them). Those were cheaper than the Beats too at around $130.

    Surely someone could have figured this out by now and brought out well designed, reliable, durable wireless earphones with good sound quality and at least 8-10 hours battery life at $150 or less?

    1. Adelio

      Re: Wireless

      Why would i spend £150 on a set of B.T. headphones that need constant charging and are so easy to loose. Much better to spend £30 on a set of wired in-ear ones that JUST work.

      I just plug them into my phone and voila. (Oh I forgot most modern phones are saving £1 by NOT including a headphone jack, thats why I would never by a phone without one).

      1. a pressbutton Silver badge

        Re: Wireless

        That is why the newer flagships do not have a headphone jack.

        Not to save themselves £1,

        but to cost you £150

        Even if only 10% of new gen pixel owners fall for it, that is many £millions of extra revenue.

    2. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      Re: Wireless

      My Jabra Sport headset still has great battery life and has done sterling service for years, mainly giving me navigation instructions while cycling. Unfortunately, it has recently developed a problem with sound generally being lost of on one side. This is probably a dodgy connection but I haven't worked out to fix it. The replacement is a Sony headset (SP500) with external drivers. While the battery life isn't as good, you can get better cheaper, the headset can safely be worn in both ears while allowing me to hear what's going on: traffic, announcements, etc. Great when cycling though less great on a plane…

      When I'm in the right environment the sound is also better than the Jabra (but I don't want a sports headset to listen to Ludwig van) and it also seems slightly less sensitive to interference.

  9. Cuddles Silver badge

    I don't get earpods

    For less than half the price, you can get perfectly good headphones with the two earpieces connected by a thin rigid band. No wires to flap about while running and no possibility of falling out your ears or off your head. You even get the option of bone-conduction speakers so you don't need anything stuffed in your ear at all and can actually hear things around you such as other people, cars, and so on. Best of all, I'm not even sure it's possible to find any with battery life as terrible as these - mine claim 8 hours, but it's actually closer to 10 in practice.

    Yes, using wires still has some advantages. But it also has disadvantages so just complaining about the very concept of wireless headphones doesn't make much sense. But earpods are a step backwards from the options we already had - they add a whole pile of extra inconvenience without solving a single problem. And then charge double the price for the privilege.

  10. jayhstsby9909

    Seriously? Just uninstall it if it's that big of a deal. I'm keeping it because I ordered the ear buds. It doesn't use battery, contrary to what one person says, and doesn't even occupy a space in your app drawer. If it's that big of a deal to you, take 30 seconds to find it in the play store, and uninstall it. This is literally one of the dumbest thing I've ever seen.

    1. jake Silver badge

      So, jayhstsby9909, you actually approve of companies installing code on equipment which you purchased without bothering to ask your permission first, much less discovering if you need it? And you have the gall to advocate the rest of us rolling over and accepting this abhorrent practice, to boot?

      Because in your mind, it's easy for us to clean up after they arbitrarily dump their trash wherever they see fit. I suppose you don't mind cleaning up after your neighbors dogs when they shit on your lawn, either. Well, I've got news for you: Most humans object to people littering in our private spaces.

      What flavo(u)r was the coolaid, consumer?

  11. Blacklight


    Not available from the UK store (yet)

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