Google is adding a new section to its Pixel-only Sounds app, with a collection of new ringtones and alarm sounds that it calls “Gems.” As first spotted by 9to5Google, the Gems collection includes 26 new sounds in all, with names like “Prism,” “Ethereal Vibration,” and “Mineral Chimez.” They’ve been rolling out alongside the launch of Android 14 and the new Pixel phones hitting stores this week.
Like the new ringtones in iOS 17, Google’s new sounds are distinctly higher res than your average ringtone. These companies are leaning away from the simple, retro-sounding tones of old and into much richer, fuller sounds that might also be at home in a video game soundtrack or as a loop in Ableton.
There are lots of vibes to choose from here. “Sublime” is pure spa music, obviously designed to ease your morning wakeup; “Enchanted” toot-toots the arrival of a new phone call with its best Disney princess impression; “Amber Beats” sounds like the beginning of a bad David Guetta track. So far, “Ethereal Vibration” is my favorite, a slow-then-fast beat that sounds like you’re getting a call in the year 3045. As notification sounds go, “Swerve” is one of the quickest and least annoying ones I’ve heard in a while, which is all you can hope for in a notification sound.
All these new sounds do raise a question, though: does anyone actually have ringtones anymore? At least in my experience, there are two types of phone users. There are those who have the default ringtone, usually at full volume because they don’t know how to change it and don’t particularly care. And there are those who put their phone on silent the minute they turn it on, have never even heard their ringtone, and couldn’t even tell you what it is. Both Apple and Google seem to believe there’s a third group of people out there who want lots of customization for their rings, but I think that might be a trend that died in the early aughts along with the 99-cent ringtone in the iTunes store.
The update seems to be intended to coincide with the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro launch this week, but the new Sounds sounds should be available across other Pixel devices as well. They’re fun to explore... at an appropriate volume.