To complement the new Pixel 8 and 8 Pro, Google is releasing additional colors of its Pixel Buds Pro noise-canceling earbuds. They now come in blue and porcelain hues that fit nicely alongside the company’s latest mobile devices. I’ve asked whether this means any of the previous color options are being phased out.
More importantly, Google has announced a handful of new software features that will roll out to its flagship earbuds over the next few weeks. At the top of the list is conversation detection. Yes, as with earbuds from Sony, Apple, and other brands, the Pixel Buds Pro can now sense when you begin speaking, at which point they’ll automatically engage transparency mode and pause whatever audio you’re listening to. Once you’ve stopped talking, the music resumes, and noise cancellation turns back on. Conversation detection is an optional setting, so if you have a habit of chatting with yourself or singing along with your tunes, you can avoid it altogether.
Voice call quality could also improve substantially thanks to a one-two punch of new features. First, the Pixel Buds Pro now support Bluetooth Super Wideband, which Google says “doubles the bandwidth for voices, making you sound fuller and clearer.” Google says Bluetooth Super Wideband is exclusive to Pixel 8 and newer phones, though.
Second, the Pixel Buds Pro now support Google’s Clear Calling voice enhancement technology to reduce background noise during calls.
The company is also trying to ensure that customers stay mindful of hearing health with new listening stats that outline “how loud you’ve been listening to music over time,” and you’ll get notifications when it’s a good idea to dial down the volume a bit if you’re overdoing it. There are even improvements on the mobile gaming front: a new low-latency mode is automatically activated whenever you open a “compatible” game, and Google says it halves the latency that was present before.
The new software tricks will be coming to the Pixel Buds Pro via an upcoming firmware update, while the latest colors of the earbuds are available for preorder now for $199.99.
Update October 4th, 11:45AM ET: Added that Bluetooth Super Wideband requires Pixel 8 and newer — we just spotted that in the company’s fine print.