Google adds more colors and new features to its Pixel Buds 2 earbuds

Announced at launch, the orange, mint and black versions are now shipping as Google delivers updated features via a software update.

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Sarah Tew/CNET

When they hit stores back in April, the Google Pixel Buds 2 earbuds got a lot of attention for their eye-catching Mentos-esque design. And while Samsung's Galaxy Buds Live are the wireless earbuds of the moment -- at least in terms of their innovative design -- the Pixel Buds 2 may get some renewed attention thanks to the arrival of new color options that were previously announced but not available for purchase until now.

"Oh-so orange," which seems a bit reddish to me, "quite mint" and "almost black" are now officially on sale for $180 -- the same price as the original white version that I rated pretty highly (read CNET's full Pixel Buds 2 review).

New features on deck

Over the months, Google has provided some small firmware updates, including one that fixed an issue with audio hissing that some people were encountering. But with the release of the new colors, the company will be rolling out a more substantial software update for the Pixel Buds 2, which it says will include a few new experiences. According to Google, that includes:

  • Find My Device has been expanded to include the last known location of your Buds, so you can more easily locate the earbuds by seeing where they were last connected with an Android device.
  • You can now toggle the touch controls on and off.
  • A new sharing-detection feature recognizes when you're sharing one of your earbuds with a friend, and allows each of you to swipe to control the volume individually. 
  • Sound settings will now include a bass boost/EQ option for those looking for a stronger bass profile.
  • Transcribe mode will be rolling out for Translate for English to French, German, Italian and Spanish, so you'll be able to ask the Assistant in those languages to "help you speak English" for smoother in-ear translations. 
  • Attention Alerts, an experimental feature that uses AI technology, aims to detect a few important sounds -- a baby crying, dog barking or an emergency vehicle siren -- and makes you aware when you're wearing your earbuds. 
  • New Assistant voice controls include, "Hey, Google, turn on/off touch controls" and, "Hey, Google, what is my battery?"

Some users have complained about sporadic audio cutouts and Google didn't say whether the new update also fixes any bugs, but as soon as I try the earbuds out with the updated firmware, I'll update my review to reflect any of the changes I notice.  

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