Pixel Buds Pro update adds Clear Calling and more

After rolling out two updates to the Pixel Buds Pro since the July 2022 launch, Google is planning an even bigger update that adds Clear Calling.

According to a source familiar with the matter, Google is working on a major software update for the Pixel Buds Pro. This follows the addition of Spatial Audio with head tracking support back in March, and 5-band EQ, as well as left/right volume balance, last October.

Following the introduction of Clear Calling on the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro in December comes a similarly-aimed capability at Google Excellent headphones. Clear Calling filters out background noise and enhances voices so that you can hear people better in noisy environments, such as on the sidewalk or in a store. It works well in our tests and often results in a noticeable improvement. Background noise can still be heard but it is reduced to a beep that can be ignored.

On phones, this feature requires a Tensor G2 and does not work on VoIP calls. We’re not sure if the Clear Calling equivalent on the Pixel Buds Pro works entirely on headphones, or if it will depend on the paired phone.

The second addition is support for “Super Wide Band” to improve voice call quality from 16 to 32 kHz, which Google has done. work to support in the Android Bluetooth stack.

When “wideband talk communication” is mentioned, it means Codec communication where the media being transmitted consist of encoded frames derived from speech (or other sound) sampled at 32 kHz.

the Bluetooth SIG Paper Explains how:

The introduction of broadband and ultra wideband speech to the HFP profile will raise the end customer’s perceived expectations of speech quality. Ultra wideband speech corresponds to the maximum audio bandwidth offered by 5G voice services and offered by many voice over the top (OTT) services.

From what little information is available on the Super Wide Band today, it appears that this is an upgrade over HD Voice, which was made possible by Voice over LTE (VoLTE). As such, it could relate to what Clear Calling is trying to achieve for a call quality focused update. Judging by the wording of “5G voice services”, carriers will likely also need to make modifications to fully support high-quality voice.

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Finally, you can also expect some hearing-related Digital Wellbeing features. This is supposed to only take into account what you’re listening to and how loud it is, but it would be interesting to see a broader feature that analyzes environmental sound levels (like the Apple Watch).

These Pixel Buds Pro updates are expected in the coming months and will certainly increase the appeal of Google’s headphones for the coming year.

Kyle Bradshaw contributed to this post.

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