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Real-time translation comes to all Google Assistant-optimized headphones and phones

Bose QC35 II with Android phone
Bose QC35 II with Android phone (Image credit: Android Central)

Google's original Pixel Buds were some interesting specimens. They were Google's first earbud headphones, and we loved how comfortable they were to wear, but their standout feature — real-time translation via Google Assistant — was only available when using Pixel Buds with a Pixel phone.

Now, not only do you not need a Pixel phone to use real-time translation, you don't need the Pixel Buds, either.

Like many Pixel-exclusive features, real-time translation is finally making the jump to more devices. The Pixel Buds support page for real-time translation has been updated from ""Google Translate on Google Pixel Buds is only available on Pixel phones" to "Google Translate is available on all Assistant-optimized headphones and Android phones."

When your Google Assistant-enabled headphones and phone are paired with each other and you say "Help me interpret Japanese" or any other language, you can hear translations and respond to them on your headphones while holding our your phone to the person you're talking to. That person will hear your translations from the phone's speaker and respond to them through the phone's microphone. Real-time translation is available in 40 languages on the Google Buds support page, but only 27 languages are listed under "Talk" for speech translation and bilingual conversation translation on Google Translate.

Real-time translation is available on all phones running Marshmallow and above — which accounts for over 70% of the Android devices today — but Google Assistant headphones are harder to come by. Granted, more and more Google Assistant headphones are being released, like the new LG Tone Platinum SE neckbuds, but the segment is still largely ruled by premium, high-quality headphones with premium price tags like the Bose QC 35 II.

Being able to translate conversations more easily, in more places, and with more devices is absolutely a good thing, and while real-time translation still isn't perfect yet, one can only hope that with wider availability and more use will come more refinement and more translation accuracy.

Ara Wagoner was a staff writer at Android Central. She themes phones and pokes YouTube Music with a stick. When she's not writing about cases, Chromebooks, or customization, she's wandering around Walt Disney World. If you see her without headphones, RUN. You can follow her on Twitter at @arawagco.

8 Comments
  • I have been able to use the feature with my OnePlus 6 and pixel buds for a couple of months now.
  • How did it work for you? Have never tired to use
  • I own a pair of Bose QC 2's for walks and my long commute. I tried the translation today with a coworker who spoke very precise French.... It is awesome. I'm thankful I own Bowers & Wilkins P9's for home use, corded, which makes use of Google Play Music digital music upscaling.
  • Was there a Firmware update required to get your pair of Bose QC 35 II to work?
  • When I think of how bad translations often are between English/German, which is probably used quite often, than I would people caution to use this tool. Some unintended consequences might be the result! 😂 Google is making progress for sure but this is lightyears away from prime time.
  • Are the new wired pixel buds "assistant enabled"?
  • I read somewhere that they do work for this.
  • In South Africa we still need to get the Google Assistant, you would think we didn't speak English, seeing how Google Assistant has been out in the US