Google's best true wireless headphones just got a great free upgrade

Spatial audio with head tracking is now available for your Pixel Buds Pro

Google Pixel Buds Pro
(Image credit: Google)

The Pixel Buds Pro are probably Google's best true wireless earbuds, and there have been some great free software updates since their original launch. The latest one, which is rolling out now, may be the best yet.

Fresh from a January security patch that brought spatial audio to the Pixel phones, Google has now issued an even better update for the Pixel Buds Pro: not only does it deliver spatial audio, but it delivers spatial audio with head tracking

The rollout has already begun, but it might take a week or so to reach your device.

Why head tracking matters in spatial audio

If you haven't already experienced it, head tracking makes spatial audio feel more real. Without head tracking you get an impressively big sound stage, but with head tracking everything moves as your head does – so if you turn your head towards a particular instrument, it sounds more prominent. Just as it would if you turned your head towards it in the real world.

I love this kind of thing, and I've spent many happy hours jiggling my head around to experience various songs in spatial audio. As Google puts it, "Spatial audio allows you to hear audio that sounds more wide and open, as if you’re being immersed in sound." It's at its best in movies and TV shows, and it should work with any content offering 5.1 surround sound or better. 

To take advantage of the new feature you'll need not just your earbuds but also a Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro, Pixel 7, or Pixel 7 Pro; other phones are not supported. Google has a list of supported platforms in its help centre here

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series; her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, was shortlisted for the British Book Awards. When she’s not scribbling, Carrie is the singer in Glaswegian rock band Unquiet Mind (unquietmindmusic).