This one amazing feature makes Pixel Buds Pro my new favorite earbuds


Google Pixel Buds Pro Bay Blue

June Wan/ZDNET

If you’re wondering what might be the best earbuds to pair with your Google Pixel phone, let me make a case for the Pixel Buds Pro.

I’m not going to lie to you and say they deliver unrivaled sound. Yes, the Pixel Buds Pro wash your eardrums with glorious music and enable you to tweak that sound to your liking. But that doesn’t mean they can beat the likes of the Denon PerL earbuds.

Also: The best Google Pixel phones (including the Pixel 8 Pro)

The Pixel Buds Pro make up for that by working seamlessly with Google’s Pixel phones — and by offering a certain feature that makes using these earbuds an absolute delight. 

The feature in question is called Conversation Detection and it works to automatically switch from Noise Cancellation to Transparency mode the very moment that the earbuds detect you are having a conversation with another person.

The feature works like this:   

  1. You’re jamming your favorite tunes.
  2. Someone comes up to you and speaks.
  3. The Pixel Buds Pro detect the voice and — with the help of the Pixel phone — automatically pause the music and switch from Noise Canceling to Transparency Mode.
  4. The voice of the person communicating to you is picked up by the earbuds’ mics and sent directly to your ears, so you can hear them without having to remove your earbuds.

I’ve tested the feature in numerous situations and it works to perfection. As soon as the earbuds detect a conversation, the phone automatically makes the change. The conversation can be initiated by you or another person. Here’s an added touch of coolness: As soon as the earbuds detect the conversation is over, the phone will switch back automatically to Noise Canceling mode and your music will start up again.

Also: The best earbuds you can buy: Sony, Apple, and more compared

Yeah, it’s pretty amazing.

This feature comes by way of a recent AI update (release_5.9_signed) to the Pixel Buds. The Pixel Buds Pro automatically update their firmware via the Pixel Phone, so your earbuds should automatically receive the latest firmware (so long as they’re connected to your phone and you use them).

But how do you enable this cool new feature? Let me show you.

How to enable Conversation Detection

What you’ll need: To make this work, you’ll need a pair of updated Pixel Buds Pro (the feature isn’t available on the standard Pixel Buds) and a Pixel phone.

The first thing you must do is take your Pixel Buds Pro out of the case and ensure they’ve connected to your phone. (Just start playing music and you’ll know.)

Open Settings and go to Connected Devices. You should see your Google Pixel Buds Pro listed. Tap the associated gear icon for the earbuds.

The connected devices listing for a pair of Google Pixel Buds Pro.

The listing will also inform you how your battery levels are in each earbud.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

In the resulting page, make sure Noise Cancellation is enabled and then tap the On/Off slider for Conversation Detection until it’s in the On position.

Also: The best noise-canceling earbuds for deep work and quiet studying

The ANC and Conversation Detection features for the Pixel Buds Pro.

Conversation Detection doesn’t work when ANC is turned off.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

With Conversation Detection enabled, play some music and find a subject with which to initiate a conversation. Start speaking and you’ll see your Pixel phone automatically switch to Transparency Mode and your music will pause. Have your conversation and then walk away. Once the earbuds detect the conversation has ended, the Pixel phone will switch back to Noise Canceling mode and your music will restart.

Also: The best headphones for music: Expert reviewed

Congratulations! You’ve just made using your Pixel Buds Pro an even more seamless experience. With this feature, I no longer have to worry that I’m going to miss out on my wife talking to me when I’m enjoying music through my earbuds. Anyone who lives with a significant other understands just how important that is.


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