Like AirPods Pro 2, Google's Pixel Buds Pro Add Conversation Detection and Other New Features

A software update to Google's flagship earbuds adds conversation detection, a hearing wellness monitor, clearer call quality and more.

David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Kobo e-books and audiobooks.
Expertise Headphones, Bluetooth speakers, mobile accessories, Apple, Sony, Bose, e-readers, Amazon, glasses, ski gear, iPhone cases, gaming accessories, sports tech, portable audio, interviews, audiophile gear, PC speakers Credentials
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David Carnoy
2 min read
Pixel Buds Pro in the bay blue color, in their case

The Pixel Buds Pro now come in this new bay blue color and a new porcelain color. 

Screenshot by David Carnoy/CNET

Sony may have been the first to have a conversation detection feature with its headphones and earbuds, but other companies like Apple and now Google are now adding it to their competing products with software updates. Along with that feature, Google says current and new owners of its flagship Pixel Buds Pro will also get a hearing wellness monitor, clearer call quality with support for Bluetooth Super Wideband and a new low-latency gaming mode. The new features will be available today as the firmware update begins to roll out. 

Watch this: Google Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro First Look

In recent days, these feature updates have already been leaked online but Google officially announced them Wednesday at its launch event for the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro smartphones and Pixel Watch 2. It also debuted the Pixel Buds Pro in two new colors -- bay (light blue) and porcelain -- to complement the colors of the new Pixel 8 smartphones.

Here's a quick rundown of the new Pixel Buds Pro features that will be coming via firmware update. Google added a five-band equalizer for customized sound and spatial audio with head tracking in an earlier firmware update.

All the feature updates make a very good pair of noise-canceling earbuds even better and help Google keep pace with Apple's AirPods Pro 2, which were also recently updated with USB-C charging and some other new features, including Adaptive Audio, Conversation Awareness and Personalized Volume.

Google Pixel Buds Pro new features

Conversation Detection: When you turn on this feature, the Pixel Buds Pro use AI to detect when you start speaking, eliminating the need to remove the buds when you want to talk to someone (or they want to talk to you). Your music pauses and the earbuds switch to Transparency mode. When you end your conversation, the music resumes, going back to active noise cancellation. This is similar to Sony's Speak-To-Chat mode and Apple's Conversation Awareness mode. 

Bluetooth Super Wideband: Google says this doubles the bandwidth for voices, making you sound fuller and clearer.

Clear Calling on Pixel: Google says this helps reduce the noise around the person on the other side of the call, enhancing their voice so you can hear them even more clearly.

Listening stats (hearing wellness monitor): The Pixel Buds app will inform you how loud you've been listening to music over time, and tells you when to lower the volume to help you maintain your hearing wellness. 

New low-latency gaming mode: It will automatically turn on when you open a compatible game on your Pixel phone, according to Google, and cuts latency in half for a "more dynamic gaming experience."


All the new Pixel Buds Pro features.

Screenshot by James Martin/CNET