After rolling out two Pixel Buds Pro updates since the July 2022 launch, Google is planning a more sizable one that adds Clear Calling.
According to a source familiar with the matter, Google is working on a major software update for Pixel Buds Pro. It follows the addition of Spatial Audio with head tracking support this March, and a 5-band EQ, as well as left/right volume balance, last October.
After introducing Clear Calling on the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro in December, a capability with similar aims is coming to Google’s premium headphones. Clear Calling works to filter out background noise and enhance voices so that you can better hear people in noisy environments, like on a sidewalk or in a store. It works well in our testing and often makes for a notable improvement. Background noises can still be heard but are reduced to an ignorable hiss.
On phones, this feature requires Tensor G2 and does not work on VoIP calls. We’re not sure if the Clear Calling equivalent on Pixel Buds Pro works entirely on the headphones or whether it will rely on the paired phone.
The second addition is support for “Super Wide Band speech” to improve the quality of voice calls from 16 to 32 kHz, which Google has been working to support in Android’s Bluetooth stack.
Where “Super Wide Band Speech Connection” is stated, it means a Codec Connection where the media being transported consists of encoded frames derived from speech (or other audio) sampled at 32 kHz.
The Bluetooth SIG paper explains how:
The introduction of wide band and Super Wide Band speech to the HFP profile will raise the end customer’s expectations of perceived speech quality. Super Wide Band Speech corresponds to the maximum audio bandwidth provided in 5G voice services and provided by many over-the-top (OTT) voice services.
From what little information about Super Wide Band is available today, this looks to be an upgrade over HD Voice, which was made possible by Voice over LTE (VoLTE). As such, it could tie in with what Clear Calling is trying to achieve for a call quality-focused update. Judging from the phrasing of “5G voice services,” carriers will likely also need to make adjustments to fully support the higher-quality audio.
Lastly, you can also expect some hearing-related Digital Wellbeing features. This will presumably just take into consideration what you listen to and at how loud a volume, but it would be interesting to see a broader feature that analyzes environmental sound levels (like on the Apple Watch).
These Pixel Buds Pro updates are expected in the coming months and will certainly extend the appeal of the Google headphones for the next year.
Kyle Bradshaw contributed to this post.
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