Out of all the products Google launched at its big event this week, there’s one that should have Apple really worried.
No, it’s not the Pixel phones (though they certainly seem like worthy iPhone competitors) or the MacBook-like Pixelbook, it’s the Pixel Buds.
More than any other gadget Google launched, the $159 Pixel Buds (which, by the way, are already out of stock on Google’s store), perfectly encapsulate how Google can use it’s incredible AI advantage to beat Apple at its own game.
To be clear, this isn’t about whether the Pixel Buds, as they are right now, are better than AirPods. I’m on record as a huge fan of my AirPods, and I walked away from my first Pixel Buds demo less impressed with the look and feel of Google’s ear buds.
But I’m talking about much more than just aesthetics, which are easily fixed (particularly now that Google has an extra 2,000 engineers from HTC onboard).
No, it was this — Google’s first public demo of the Pixel Buds — that should have Apple very, very worried.
Pixel Buds + Google Assistant + Google Translate
— Karissa Bell (@karissabe) October 4, 2017
That demo is perhaps Google’s best example of how its new “AI-first” vision can completely and radically change its hardware — and its ability to compete with Apple. Pixel Buds, which have Google Assistant and real-time translation for 40 languages built right in, are, for now, Google’s best example of this vision.
But Pixel Buds are only the beginning.
These types of integrations will make their to the rest of Google’s hardware faster than you can say “talking poop emoji.” There are already signs of it. The Pixel Phones use algorithms — not extra lenses — to enable portrait mode and an overall smarter camera. The new Google Home Max uses AI to make its sound better. And Google’s first-class computer vision capabilities — whether it’s in the Lens app, the Clips camera, or the Pixelbook’s image search — has the potential to completely change how you use cameras, and laptops, and smartphones.
So while Apple has the iPhone 8 and the massively hyped iPhone X for now — even I won’t pretend Google has a shot at outselling Apple in the near term — Google’s AI is so much farther ahead of Apple’s it’s almost laughable.
Yes, Cupertino has made a concerted effort to step up its AI recently, particularly when it comes to Siri. And the company’s latest iPhones are unquestionably its smartest yet. But FaceID and talking emoji pale in comparison to Google’s dominance.
And nowhere is that more evident than Pixel Buds.