Google's Pixel Buds have lost the exclusivity of their headline feature. Real-time translation has expanded to include a much wider selection of assistant-powered and wired headphones. The Pixel Buds were launched last year along with Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL as Google's response to Apple's popular AirPods.
The reaction to the Pixel Buds, however, proved much more subdued. Google headphones were less ergonomic than their Cupertino competitors. They had a tethering cord that connected the left and right earphones. The Pixel Buds, however, had a trick that AirPods could not achieve.
That was real-time translation. Activate the function on the Pixel 2 and the earphones would deliver a live transmission of speech discreetly in your ears. It was not quite the "universal translator" of science fiction, but it was still an impressive move on Google Translate.
At the time, Google said the feature was an exclusive pixel. Now it has quietly opened access to other hardware, both in terms of headphones and handsets.
An update of Droid-Life's Pixel Buds support page shows the new extension. "Google Translate is available on all Assistant-optimized headphones and Android phones," says the document. It also confirms the different languages that the feature supports.
This means, for example, that the USB-C headphones, which Google includes in the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL Box, can also provide translations. This also means you should work with a number of Google Assistant-enabled headphones, such as the Sony WH-1000MX3. You do not even need a pixel: other current Android devices should work.
Of course, it undermines one of the reasons why you bought Pixel Buds, and so far Google has no signs of replacing it with a second generation set. This was one of the rumors for the Pixel 3 event last week, but new wireless earphones were conspicuous by their absence.