(Pocket-lint) - An official Google patent has been found that shows a next-generation pair of Pixel Buds true wireless earphones, but strangely not the imminent Pixel Buds 2.

Instead, it is suggested that the design shown in the patent filing is for the Pixel Buds 3 - not expected to see the light of day for another year at least.

The patent was filed in China at the country's National Intellectual Property Administration (CNIPA) and found by 91Mobiles. It shows a rounded, small pair of earphones - smaller, in fact, than the new Pixel Buds announced by Google in October last year.

There are no fins on the eartips, for starters, and the new design seems even smaller and more ergonomic than many rivals, including Apple's AirPods.

Of course, this is just a patent and many never see the light of day. Plus, there is no indication of specifications nor release date and price. You might, therefore, be better served in purchasing the new, true wireless Pixel Buds when they eventually appear - thought to be this summer.

After all, they have excellent claimed battery life of five hours, extended to 24 hours through the charging case.

And, as they will cost $179, they're very competitively priced.

Writing by Rik Henderson.