Google Pixel Buds – Will it still be worth the effort to learn foreign languages in the near future?

On 4th October 2017 in San Francisco took place the long-awaited Google Ask More conference. It was just the occasion for the well-known technologic brand to introduce its new phones, the Pixel 2 and the Pixel 2 XL, and also a lot of other novelties like the Google Home, the Google Daydream View and a lot of updated technologies or Google devices. Among these novelties, we can find a breakthrough device: the Google Pixel Buds.

The Google Pixel Buds are a 159$ pair of wireless earbuds connected to an Android device (but until now, only the smartphones Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL are compatible with these earbuds) which include the Google Assistant. In fact, the Google Pixel Buds are able to control your music (skip one song or repeat the previous one), turn up or down the volume with a single gesture or even give walking directions while using Google Maps. All of these actions could be done by keeping your phone in your pocket, you only just have to press the Google button on the side of the earbud to activate the Google Assistant and ask him what you want to make him do.

Instead of just compete with the new Airpods from Apple, Google has introduced an amazing feature to these earbuds: the instantaneous translation of the real-time speech of a person speaking in a foreign language, thanks to the connection to the Google Translate app of your Android device. In fact, the earbuds are able to listen to the conversation just by pressing the Google button on the side of it to enable the microphone to record the message. Then, the message is sent to your phone, which can translate it directly into 40 others languages. The translated message is sent to the earbuds’ speakers in order to understand what your addressee has just said. Finally, you just have to press and keep your finger on the Google button while you’re answering and the same process will translate the answer into the mother tongue of the first speaker (see the video below).

These headphones have an autonomy of 5 hours of listening on a single charge. These earbuds are also provided with a charging case which can power these earbuds multiple times and it should provide them up to 24 hours of listening time.


The Google Pixel Buds are available in 3 different colours: “Clearly White”, “Kinda Blue” and “Just Black”. For the moment, Google’s online shop says that the Blue and Black versions will be sent in 6 or 7 weeks while the White version is already “out of stock”.


What would be the conceivable consequences of this breakthrough instantaneous translator?

In my opinion is the current generation too dependent on the Internet and all the services its allows (mobile phone applications, geo-tracking, messaging, entertainment, …). Nowadays is unusual to use a map to track or search for the right way since the global use of the GPS, to send letters or postcards to friends or family instead of using text messages or other ways to communicate through Internet (Messenger, WhatsApp, …). However, the real-time translation into foreign languages hasn’t found any technology yet to help people to communicate with foreigners. This is why, everybody is learning foreign languages at school, at the university or in evening classes. But now, Google offers an alternative to learning languages, so I fear that people will give up learning and only rely on the technology to solve their understanding issues. Moreover, in my opinion, the fact of learning foreign languages is a great challenge for myself. I always prefer to express with others words and if I don’t succeed to make me understood, then I will only search for the translation online. People often like when you’re trying to speak in their native language instead of always go on the Internet to show them the translation of what you want to say. Every language has its own beauties when you’re trying to learn it and the fact of using this new tool make this language loose its charms.

However, thanks to the introduction of this technology, a lot of misunderstandings could be avoided and we could use this technology to develop a new way of learning foreign languages. This tool could be also used for international business meetings. This novelty could be the beginning of the end for professional translators, which attend meetings or events to translate the speech of the guest if this one doesn’t speak the native language of the audience.

After all, this instantaneous translator has its pros and cons. But all of this will depend on the ability of the next generation to use this tool in the appropriate way.

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