Simple Android app lets AirPods activate Google Assistant

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AirPods in ear
AirPods now work even better on Android.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

AirPods can be paired with any smartphone, just like other Bluetooth headphones. But you don’t get full functionality on third-party platforms. On Android, however, they just became a lot more useful.

You can now use AirPods to activate the Google Assistant — thanks to one simple app.

Google Pixel Buds bring wireless audio — and instant translation

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Google Pixel Buds
Pixel Buds bring Google's AI smarts to your ears.
Photo: Google

The most impressive feature of Google’s new Pixel Buds might not be their audio quality. As demonstrated during the Pixel 2 event today, they work as a real-time translation tool when combined with one of Google’s new phones.

“With Pixel Buds, I can use real-time Google Translate to have a natural conversation in 40 languages,” Google hardware product manager Juston Payne said during the event. “We’re letting you connect with the world around you in a more natural way, by rethinking how a headphone should work, connecting it to cloud-based machine learning and giving you access with the touch of a finger.”

Apple Watch and AirPods set to be big holiday hits

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apple watch 1
Apple is ramping up the orders ahead of Christmas.
Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

The holiday season is always good for Apple, and this year is no exception. Along with the iPhone X’s possible record pre-orders and better-than-initially-thought iPhone 8 and 8 Plus sales, Apple’s suppliers are also enthused by rising sales for Apple’s AirPods and Apple Watches.

According to sources in Apple’s upstream supply chain, demand for both products has increased and Apple is placing more orders to match.

Cult of Mac Magazine: The devs who cracked the code on iPhone X and more!

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cover
Cult of Mac talked with Troughton-Smith and Rambo to find out how they uncovered some of Apple’s most closely kept secrets.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

When Apple execs stepped onstage for September’s big iPhone X unveiling, they had precious few surprises up their sleeves. This year’s iPhone keynote became one of the most spoiled in history, thanks to major software leaks — and a pair of industrious young developers who dug into Apple’s code to pierce the veil of Apple’s vaunted secrecy apparatus.

In this week’s issue, you’ll find that stories and more. Find out why Control Center no longer turns off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth. Check out our roundups of the best new cases for your iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus as well as the best straps to outfit your new Apple Watch Series 3. Get your free subscription to Cult of Mac Magazine from iTunes. Or read on for this week’s top stories.

Why Control Center no longer turns off Wi-Fi and Bluetooth in iOS 11

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Bluetooth in iOS 11
In iOS 11, AirPods (and other Apple accessories) remain connected, even when you hit the Bluetooth "off" switch.
Photo: Cult of Mac

It used to be so simple: If you swiped open the iOS Control Center and tapped the Bluetooth icon, then Bluetooth would be toggled on or off. That was it, and the same went for Wi-Fi.

In iOS 11, tapping the same Bluetooth button doesn’t do that. Instead, the Control Center Bluetooth button disconnects your iPhone or iPad from connected Bluetooth accessories, leaving the actual Bluetooth radio on. What’s more, not all accessories get disconnected. Just what in the blazes is going on here?

iOS 11 lets you customize left and right AirPod double-tap shortcuts

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AirPods
iOS 11 brings independent left/right controls to AirPods.
Photo: Cult of Mac

iOS 11 is full of small tweaks that have a big impact. Today’s tip is one of those. In iOS 10, you can customize the double-tap shortcuts on your Apple AirPods to perform various actions — invoke Siri, or play/pause, for example. But the same shortcut would apply to both AirPods. In iOS 11, you can customize each AirPod independently. So, your left ear could be set to call Siri, and your right ear set to play and pause. That’s double the options, with just a software update!

Bose takes on AirPods and Beats by baking in Google

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Bose
Bose's Quietcomfort 35 II wireless headphones are the start of a partnership with Google.
Photo: Bose

Apple’s AirPods and Beats headphones are getting some fresh competition from one of the biggest audio companies in the game. And they’re getting a little help from Apple’s rival, Google.

Bose unveiled two new products today. One is its first ever foray into the world of truly wireless earbuds. The other is a pair of brand new noise-canceling headphones that are also designed to work with Google Assistant.

Jaybird Run wireless earbuds give runners an AirPods alternative

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With its new Run headphones, Jaybird finally cuts the cord entirely.
With its new Run headphones, Jaybird finally cuts the cord entirely.
Photo: Jaybird

Sports-centric wireless headphone maker Jaybird is ready to make a run at AirPods.

The company just fired the starting gun for Jaybird Run, a set of totally wireless earbuds aimed at runners and other sports fanatics. They’re bigger than AirPods, and differ in significant ways. But for runners and other athletes, they could offer keen competition for Cupertino’s wireless earbuds.