Google didn’t announce a brand new Pixel Buds alongside the Pixel 8 smartphones last week. But they did announce a new colourway, as well as some cool new software features. It’s almost like we’re getting a renewed Pixel Buds Pro.
If you’re an existing Pixel Buds Pro owner, you’ll be happy to know today begins the main rollout of firmware version 5.9 which carries all the new features that Google had promised.
First up, there’s new clearer voice calling. Pixel Buds Pro now supports Bluetooth Super Wideband with Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro. This doubles the bandwidth for voices, which makes you sound clearer and more natural than ever before.
Noise cancellation now also reduces background noise of the person on the other side of the call, so it’s not just that they can hear you more clearly, but also you can hear them more clearly.
There’s now also a lower latency mode with faster audio transmissions designed for gaming. Again, this is a feature with Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro, and it does also require a compatible game.
In support for hearing wellness, the Pixel Buds Pro app monitors and provides insights into the volume levels that you are exposed to. It can notify you if the recommended exposure limit is exceeded.
The coolest new feature of all, however, is the new Conversation Detection. The Pixel Buds Pro will detect when you start speaking, and respond by automatically pausing your music and switching to Transparency Mode. This allows you to hear the person you’re speaking with. Then, when you stop speaking, the feature automatically turns back on Active Noise Cancellation and resumes your music.
The conversation detection works quite well. You do have to utter at least a few syllables, like “excuse me”, for the feature to kick in. Then, within two or three seconds when speech ends, the Pixel Buds Pro will figure that your conversation is done.
Conversation Detection makes it convenient to get in and out of music listening without the hassle of toggling noise cancellation and transparency modes.
Pixel Buds Pro was launched last year. It’s cool that these slew of features can be added on via just a firmware update. If you don’t yet have a Pixel Buds Pro, you can get one from the Google Store for S$299.