Google’s Pixel Buds app readies a new settings page to showcase the difference made by enabling head tracking for Spatial Audio on the Pixel Buds Pro.

About APK Insight: In this “APK Insight” post, we’ve decompiled the latest version of an application that Google uploaded to the Play Store. When we decompile these files (called APKs, in the case of Android apps), we’re able to see various lines of code within that hint at possible future features. Keep in mind that Google may or may not ever ship these features, and our interpretation of what they are may be imperfect. We’ll try to enable those that are closer to being finished, however, to show you how they’ll look in the case that they do ship. With that in mind, read on.

For owners of Pixel 6 or Pixel 7 series phones, Spatial Audio arrived in a recent update as a way to make surround sound audio — such as 5.1 or 7.1 audio in movies or TV — more immersive on the Pixel Buds Pro and any wired (USB-C) headphones. Google has also previously confirmed that the Pixel Buds Pro should soon gain support for head tracking, which will take Spatial Audio and make it responsive to your movements.

Using a recent update to the Pixel Buds app, our team has managed to forcibly enable Google’s new settings page for Spatial Audio. On Pixel phones, it will appear as a new option on your headset’s “Device details” page.

From the new page, you’ll be able to easily enable or disable both Spatial Audio in general and the connected “Head tracking” feature. What’s more interesting that Google will helpfully include a demo video right above the two toggles. It will be a simple nature video with bird calls and orchestral music, all separated out into different directions.

Judging from the section’s title, “See how it works,” you’ll likely be able to switch between the Spatial Audio modes of the Pixel Buds Pro and hear the differences using the video as a baseline. This should make it easier for Pixel Buds owners to decide whether Spatial Audio and head tracking are right for them, or if they’d rather stick with traditional stereo sound.

With these new settings seemingly ready, it hopefully won’t be much longer before Google fully launches head tracking Spatial Audio for the Pixel Buds Pro. The upcoming March Pixel Feature Drop would be the most obvious opportunity, though the last Pixel Buds update arrived in October, separate from any Pixel Feature Drop.

Thanks to JEB Decompiler, from which some APK Insight teardowns benefit.

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About the Author

Kyle Bradshaw

Kyle is an author and researcher for 9to5Google, with special interests in Made by Google products, Fuchsia, and Stadia.

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