Love them or hate them, the first-generation Pixel Buds were more than Google's first foray into the wireless headphones arena. Launching with an exclusive instant language translation feature powered by Assistant, the Pixel Buds were an initial look at what Google's AI savvy could do for the hearable product category. New information gathered by 9to5Google suggests that Pixel Buds are about to get just a little bit smarter via a new – yet currently non-functional – Assistant hotword recognition setting appearing on some devices.
Riding on the heels of news that the Pixel Buds may finally be receiving an encore as early as next week, recent reports claim that some Pixel Bud users can now see a "Say 'Hey Google'" option in their settings menu. In essence, users wearing a pair of Pixel Buds should be able to summon Assistant by a voice command instead of the tedious press-and-hold feat, or picking up their phones. When activated, however, this feature currently does not allow owners to invoke Assistant as described, and the setting even toggles itself off upon exiting the settings app.
Though Assistant hotword support is currently broken on the Pixel Buds, its mere presence is a clear sign that Google hasn't abandoned its wireless headphones. With the Made by Google event looming, it's completely plausible that a Google engineer accidentally flipped a server-side switch a week before it was ready to go live. There's also the possibility that Assistant hotword detection may actually be intended for newer hardware, à la Pixel Buds gen 2.
Either way, Google will most likely have something to say about this new feature at its Pixel event on Tuesday. Stay tuned...