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Google May Be Building Smart Headphones (Report)

Google’s next major hardware product may be designed to bring the company’s smart assistant closer to your ears. Code in one of the company’s Android apps indicates that it may be building, and getting ready to launch, smart headphones that offer direct access to the Google Assistant, according to a report from 9to5Google.

Traces of the new product, code-named Bisto, first surfaced in April in the Google app for Android. They were subsequently removed, but recently reappeared, and now give us a pretty good idea of what Bisto will be about. Among other things, the app now contains the following description:

“Your headphones have the Google Assistant. Ask it questions. Tell it to do things. It’s your own personal Google, always ready to help.”

Google didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Additional lines in the app suggest that Bisto may not just be a simple pair of earbuds or anything similar to Apple’s Airpods, but instead a pair of over-ear headphones with external buttons that offer access to a variety of functions. The device will be able to read notifications, and users will be able to access the Google Assistant and ask questions, similar to the way they can do with their phone, or a Google Home speaker.

It also appears that Google didn’t include an always-on microphone with the product, which means that users won’t be able to talk to the assistant with a wake phrase like “Okay Google.” Instead, input is being triggered by physically pressing a button on the left earcup. This may be due to privacy concerns, but foregoing the always-on mic should also help to conserve the device’s battery.

It’s likely that Google would introduce Bisto later this year when it also officially unveils the next version of its flagship phones. Last year, Google held a hardware event in October to officially unveil the Pixel phone as well as the Google Home and Google Wifi products.

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