Pixel Buds 2: The lowdown on Google's new 'floating' wireless earbuds for 2020

A major redesign puts this Apple AirPods competitor in the forefront, but Google's announcement raised a lot of questions.

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All the color choices of the new Google Pixel Buds.

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Google unveiled its second-generation Pixel Buds at its Pixel 4 event Tuesday. Google's retooled earbuds will include hands-free access to Google Assistant as well as the ability to make calls, answer texts, use Google Translate and more -- all in a sleek cordless design. The new Buds will be available to buy in Spring 2020 for $179.

Along with the updated Pixel Buds, Google announced Pixel 4 and 4 XL phones, a new Pixelbook Go Chromebook and Google Nest Home Mini.

Google's upcoming Pixel Buds will enter a crowded earbud market when they ship in the spring, joining Apple's AirPods 2 and Powerbeats Pro, Microsoft Surface Earbuds, Amazon's Echo Buds and other wireless earbuds next year. Here's everything we know about Google's new Pixel Buds, from how much they'll cost to when you can get them.

Watch this: First look at Google's new $179 wireless Pixel Buds

Why is Google announcing these now?

We're not sure, but announcing new products months before release is certainly the trend this year. Microsoft previewed its Surface Duo and announced it wouldn't be available until "holiday 2020," while Amazon introduced us to the Echo Frames that will be available "by invitation only." 

What are Google's new Pixel Buds?

The new Pixel Buds are Google's second shot at wireless earbuds -- coming two years after the company's first-generation Pixel Buds -- and promise to address some of the concerns around the initial Pixel Buds, including Bluetooth pairing.

Like the first generation, these buds come with Google Assistant built-in, which you now can use by saying "Hey, Google." Unlike the first generation, these buds are truly cordless, and the two earpieces aren't tethered together.


Google's new Pixel Buds are wireless.

Sarah Tew/CNET

What can they do?

Besides serving as wireless earbuds, Google said these second-generation Pixel Buds will give you hands-free access to Google Assistant when paired with a device running Android 6.0 or later (Google is now on Android 10). 

Through the assistant, you can send a text message, ask for directions or even get translation help. With a touch, you can play, pause and adjust volume by swiping. When paired with an iOS device, Google's Pixel Buds will act as regular Bluetooth earbuds, without Google Assistant.

What are the speakers like?

Google said its new buds will come with ear tips to create a seal to block outside noises and adaptable sound that adjusts the volume dynamically as you move through quiet and noisy locations. 

And when you're making a phone call, Google said, two mics in each earbud will focus on your voice and shut out background noises and can even compensate for wind and other environmental sounds.

What do they feel like?

Check out our first impressions video above. CNET editor Scott Stein tried non-working Buds at Google's event, and they felt comfy enough. The Pixel Buds will come with three different sized tips to fit different ears and get a good seal. They're not uncomfortable, and they lay flush with his ears, becoming semi-invisible head-on.


The new Pixel Buds come with ear tips to block outside noises.

Sarah Tew/CNET

How do I connect my phone to the Pixel Buds?

Google said the Pixel Buds will pair with Pixel phones and other devices running Android 6.0 and later with a single tap. You will also be able to pair with other Bluetooth 4.0+ phones, laptops and tablets . Google said the buds will stay connected to your phone three rooms away indoors or 100 yards away outdoors.

What are the color options?

In keeping with Google's recent color descriptions, the Pixel Buds will come in Clearly White, Oh So Orange, Quite Mint and Almost Black.

Google Pixel Buds 2 have some unique features

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Battery life

The new Pixel Buds offer five hours of continuous listening time on a full charge, or 24 hours when using a wireless charging case, about the same as Google's first-generation buds and Apple's AirPods.

Are they water-resistant?

They are "sweat and water-resistant," Google said.


Google says its new wireless earbuds are sweat- and water-resistant.

Sarah Tew/CNET

Want to know what else was released at the Google Pixel Event? Check out Google Pixel 4 event 2019: Pixel Buds, Pixelbook Go and everything Google announced.

Originally published earlier this week.