Accessories

5 Google Pixel Buds alternatives: Real-time translations

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When the Google Pixel Buds were announced, the reaction was along the lines of: “Google’s Pixel Buds translation will change the world.” But, the first thing I thought was, I wonder how it compares to what’s already out there?

I’m a native English speaker, who doesn’t have the best nack for languages. I also live in Taiwan which is a Chinese-speaking country, and I run a German-language website. There is no one more ready for a real-life Bable fish than I am.

Before I head into the Pixel Bud Alternatives, let’s take a quick look at the device that’s turning heads.

Google Pixel Buds

The Pixel Buds are neck buds, not truly wireless earbuds.

To start a translation, you hold your finger down to the earbud and say, “Help me speak French,” and speak a phrase. When you lift your finger, the Translate app speaks and displays your translation. Then, the person you’re speaking to holds a button down on your phone and says their reply, which you hear in your ear.

I’m a little dubious that this is any more convenient than just passing your phone back and forth and doing everything there, but it’s nice that only one set of translations is done over the phone’s speaker. A fairly natural voice does the translation, which is a step up from what we currently hear through Google Translate. This isn’t real time, but it’s very fast.

It doesn’t work offline and the Pixel Buds will eventually be able to translate between 40 languages, but so far, it only translates Japanese.

Google says they should last about five hours on a charge; the case can charge them four times.

I found even more offline translators at StartUp LaunchPad. Found at the Global Sourcing Fair, StartUp Launchpad is a Hong Kong Conference that showcases brand new startups looking for distributors. This happens twice a year and Mobile Geeks has made a habit of attending since it gives a sneak peek at the technology trends that are coming out of China to the rest of the world.

Le Trans

Le Trans is about the size of a bar of soap and can translate 29 languages, which is a lot of combinations! They’re mostly using Google’s translation library but have added in a few others, as well. You use an app to select which languages are being translated but it doesn’t work offline, meaning it’s not a great solution if you’re traveling.

LeTrans will be launching on Kickstarter in December with a shipping date for sometime in 2018. I did get to go hands-on, but the sample wasn’t working, so I’m reserving judgment on this until I have working samples and a price point.

Travis the Translator

Travis launched on Indegogo back in April and raised US$ 1.63 million in funding. Travis can translate 80 languages, 20 of which work offline. It’s not a headset like the Pixel Buds; it’s a MiFi-like pod that has a built-in speaker and headphone jack, so you can plug in your own.

Travis works for up to 12 hours and uses AI to become more intelligent. It works to understand your accent better and provide more accurate translations taking context into account. As you see in the video above, you can just place Travis between you and carry on a normal conversation. You have to wait for the translation to be read out, but it’s very fast and natural.

Travis doesn’t provide a full list of what translation engines they’re using but claims the best translation engine for each language is different, which is why they are using so many solutions. This makes Travis more interesting than Pixel Buds, which as far as I know, just uses Google Translate.

You can pick up Travis for US$ 169 plus shipping through their Indiegogo campaign, but the price will rise to US$ 229 when they go on sale. Travis is meant to ship towards the end of November to current backers and be ready for the market in the winter of 2017.

So far, I think that Travis offers the most interesting solution for a live translation device. For a full list of all 80 languages, visit their website.

Pilot Translating Earpiece

Pilot fits into your ear, offers live translation of 15 languages, and will stream music, take calls, deliver notifications, or act as your phone’s personal assistant. You can share the earpiece with the person you’re having the conversation with so you can both have a translation device. I have strong feelings against sharing my earbuds with a stranger, so it’s a good thing that you can use the Pilot app on the phone to listen and translate.

Currently, Pilot is not available offline, but they’re planning on adding it later. You’re also dependent on using the app for translation and the app will be available for free in November so you can download it to find out if it’s any good.

Pre-orders of the Pilot Translating Earpieces start at US$ 249 (US$ 299 when it goes on sale) and come with free access to Latin/romance languages (French, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, along with English). However, adding more languages like Arabic, Mandarin Chinese, German, Greek, Hindi, Japanese, Korean, Polish, Russian, Turkish, etc. will cost you more.

Ili Wearable Translator

Ili can be worn around your neck or simply held in your hand and pointed at people’s faces, like in the video above. Ili is around the same size as your phone, but it’s not as wide. It doesn’t offer instant translation and has 0.2 seconds of delay.

Ili isn’t a universal translator — it’s travel-focused — so this is the context of the content it has available. Due to its limited size and the fact that it’s offline, it essentially holds a translation dictionary.

That said, there is quite a lot encompassed in the travel: “Ili is here to help you when it comes to dining, shopping, finding transportation, and much more,” according to the company. If you believe their YouTube channel, these are quite a lot of scenarios.

The biggest issue/disappointment is that Ili is one way — one language to another, not back again. Forget having a conversation, Ili claims that its goal is to help you be understood by others. Understanding what’s being said to you will have to wait for another version.

Ili has support for three languages from English, meaning English to Spanish, Mandarin, or Japanese and two languages from Chinese.

Bragi Dash Pro

Bragi Dash Pro is currently available and Mobile Geeks has reviewed it. Though I can’t say we were impressed with the performance, I’m hopeful it’ll improve.

All you need to do to have a conversation with someone who speaks another language is throw Dash Pro earbuds in, and you’ll instantly be able to understand someone who’s speaking in one of 40 foreign languages.

The problem is that there’s no compelling reason to use the Dash Pro for translation, unless both people in the conversation are using the earbuds. You can’t hand one earbud off to the other person so they can also benefit from the translator. If the other person doesn’t have their own pair of headphones, you still have to hold your phone out so that the person you’re talking to has a microphone to talk into and a speaker to hear your own words translated into their language. Otherwise, they’d have to talk directly into your ear, and they wouldn’t get your voice translated back into their language. At that point, it’s far easier for you to both speak into — and hear translations from — the same device.

The earbuds act as an accessory for an app called iTranslate, which already claims five million monthly active users and is one of the more high-rated translation apps in both the Apple Store and on Google Play.


This article originally appeared on Mobile Geeks. Nicole Scott, who was GadgetMatch’s companion and guide to its very first StartUp Launch Pad experience, shared her experience on the bi-annual conference at the Global Sourcing Fair in Hong Kong. 

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Accessories

Redmi Earbuds S are the most affordable TWS offering

The price is unbelievable

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In India, Xiaomi’s Redmi division looks after the affordable segment while Mi-branded products are for the premium segment. On the side, POCO is now an independent brand. Continuing with the new strategy, Redmi today announced the launch of their new TWS earbuds, the Redmi Earbuds S.

Just a couple of weeks ago, the Mi True Wireless Earphones 2 were announced in the country but they are far from affordable. To bridge this gap, the Redmi Earbuds S has been unveiled. It’s worth noting that they are the same as the Redmi AirDots S, which were launched in China earlier.

The Earbuds have 7.2mm drivers and are IPX4-rated for water resistance. The individual buds weigh only about 4.5g each. The company’s marketing has focused on how good their bass is, but we’ll be able to confirm that in our review later.

For connectivity, it leverages SBC codec, a commonly used protocol via Bluetooth. However, a low-latency mode has also been added to aide gaming. The earbuds are said to deliver four hours of playback on a single charge and the case can extend this to 12 hours.

The Earbuds S also has a physical button on either side to control media playback or skip tracks. The gaming mode can be triggered by pressing the function key thrice.

The Redmi Earbuds S will cost INR 1,799 (US$ 23) and will go on sale starting May 27 via Mi.com and Amazon.

These earbuds are an entry-level option for someone who’s looking for a pair of TWS earbuds. Instead of rich features, the point of this product is to offer an affordable option to the end-user.

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Accessories

Apple moving its AirPods assembly line to Vietnam

iPhone production is next in line

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Apple has started shifting its iPhone production line to India but it doesn’t end there. With the ongoing trade war between China and the US, more companies are slowly finding alternatives — such is the case with Apple moving AirPods assembly to Vietnam.

Asia Nikkei‘s report indicated that Apple has already done production trials of the AirPods line in Vietnam last year. Just this month, numerous buyers (including a MacForums user) have pointed out the sudden change. The ‘Assembled in Vietnam’ engraving at the back of the AirPods Pro is prominent since loyal users know that Apple products are assembled in China.

A Reddit user initially shared his concern about the product’s authenticity, even before the mentioned tweet started gaining attention.

It says mine are made in Vietnam but all other ones say China ? Should I be worried or it has nothing to do with it?? from r/AirpodsPro

Even a staff from The Verge shared a photo of her recently bought AirPods Pro with the same engraving.

Photo by Kara Verlaney (The Verge)

A follow-up report stated that the mass production of the new AirPods units took place in Vietnam last March. Despite the pandemic, they were able to secure permits from Vietnamese officials to bring in engineers for better and smoother production.

Some of the old EarPods were also assembled in Vietnam, which means the country isn’t exactly new to assembling Apple’s audio accessories. Even Apple’s long-awaited AirPods Studio might be produced there as well.

A recently-published article by DigiTimes states that other than India, they’re also moving the iPhone production line to Vietnam. It makes sense considering Foxconn has already built factories in the northern province of Bac Giang.

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Accessories

OnePlus TWS earbuds could look like the AirPods

Why are we not surprised?

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Apple was the first company to remove the 3.5mm headphone jack in iPhone 7 and release a wireless solution, the AirPods. Now, every phone maker wants a piece of the pie, and now a OnePlus TWS is coming our way as well.

Reliable leakster Max J. has revealed an illustration of the upcoming OnePlus truly wireless earbuds and they look eerily similar to the Apple AirPods. The signature in-ear design without rubber tips is considered to be Apple’s design language and many makers have tried to replicate it.

Realme launched the Buds Air this year and they look exactly like the AirPods. Even the charging case is a lookalike. Even the OPPO Enco Free wireless earbuds have a cop-cat design and are indistinguishable.

 

On the other hand, Xiaomi unveiled the Mi True Wireless Earphones 2 and they have an entirely different design. The brand seems to have focused more on functionality than looks.

OnePlus has already released wireless earphones in the past, but they haven’t been truly wireless. The OnePlus Bullets Wireless and Bullets Wireless 2 had their own design language and were built to offer a premium experience. Along with the OnePlus 8 series, the company announced an affordable version called the Bullets Z.

Rumors suggest OnePlus could launch a midrange phone dubbed the OnePlus Z or OnePlus 8 Lite in July. These earbuds are expected to launch alongside the phone.

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