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Pixel Buds Pro update adds conversation detection and several other new features

The firmware update brings improved call quality, hearing health and a low-latency gaming mode.

Photo by Billy Steele/Engadget

Like Apple recently did with its second-gen AirPods Pro, Google is pushing a substantial firmware update to its 2022 earbuds, the company announced during its Made by Google event on Wednesday. Google has already updated the Pixel Buds Pro since they launched last year, adding spatial audio and a full five-band EQ for tuning adjustments. This fall, Google has another robust upgrade planned, including five new features that will expand the abilities of the company's flagship earbuds.

Apple and Sony already have tools that automatically pause audio when you begin to speak, which allow you to have quick chats without reaching for the earbuds or your phone. Google is preparing to offer something similar called conversation detection. The company says AI on the Pixel Buds Pro detects your voice, pauses music and activates transparency mode. As on competing earbuds, everything returns to its previous state when the buds no longer pick up your voice, including going back to active noise cancellation (ANC) if it had been enabled.

Google says it's also improved call quality, which was a key complaint in the review we published last year. More specifically, the company claims the Pixel Buds Pro now support Bluetooth Super Wideband, which it says "doubles the bandwidth for voices." Google promises you'll sound "fuller and clearer" compared to a set of the earbuds running the previous software. In addition, the Pixel Buds Pro now support Clear Calling on Pixel, which combats background noise on the other end of your calls.

Pixel Buds Pro hearing health

Hearing health has become a focus for earbud makers in recent years and Google will offer more info on your listening habits to help you keep levels in check. The Pixel Buds app will tell you how loud you've been listening over time and alert you to when you might want to lower the volume to protect your hearing. For mobile gamers, a new low-latency mode on the Pixel Buds Pro is automatically activated when you open a compatible title on a Pixel phone. Google says it has cut latency in half compare to Pixel Buds Pro running the old software. Lastly, the company now offers the Pixel Buds app for these earbuds on Chromebooks, giving you easy access to settings, noise control modes and firmware updates from those devices.

Since Google is all about color coordination, the company is adding Bay (light blue) and Porcelain (let's call it "cream") colorways for the Pixel Buds Pro to match the new Pixel 8, Pixel 8 Pro and Pixel Watch 2. Those options join the existing four colors on the $200 set of wireless earbuds. The Pixel Buds Pro software update will start rolling out today for new and existing users.

Follow all of the news live from Google’s 2023 Pixel event right here.