Yesterday we woke up to the hype that the official Google-made Pixel Buds app had landed in the Play Store. This was important for two reasons: it signaled the imminent release of the earbuds and it also made it clear that the Pixel Buds experience wouldn’t be limited to Pixel users only. As the day wore on, the Pixel Buds did end up launching and as a handful of reviews rolled in, we saw the earphones being used on quite a few different Android phones, confirming that the Pixel Buds will be a great experience for all Android users.
But what about Chromebook users? We have Android apps. We have Bluetooth. We have ears. I would assume the app would work fine on a Chromebook, too, but as I searched for it on the Pixelbook Go, it wasn’t showing up. At first I assumed this was just a Chrome OS thing and Google was targeting phones only. In a last-ditch effort to find it on my Chromebook, I searched for the app in the web version of the Play Store and after finding it and hitting the install button, I was given a list of compatible devices. Of everything listed, the only Chromebooks that made the cut were two ‘Hatch’ Chromebooks: the Samsung Galaxy Chromebook and ASUS Chromebook Flip C436.
At first this seemed a tad odd, but after considering it for a second, I suppose it makes sense. Both of these Chromebooks ship with Bluetooth 5.0, not the 4.2 that most older Chromebooks come with. Perhaps some of the features of the Pixel Buds and their companion app require more than what Bluetooth 4.2 is capable of. Until I have my pair in hand to test, it’s hard to know.
At this point, though, it looks like you’ll need a current-gen Chromebook like the offerings from Samsung, ASUS, or one of the upcoming HP device we’ll see next week if you want the primary use of your Pixel Buds to be on your Chrome OS device from setup to use. There’s no reason they won’t work in a more standard pairing setup with any Chromebook, but some of the fancier features may only work if paired up to an Android phone or a Chromebooks possessing Bluetooth 5.0 during the setup process.
We expect many more of those Chromebooks throughout the rest of 2020, but what I’d rather see is Fast Pair working as advertised with these buds. It would be great to pair them with my phone, get everything set up, and simply have the option to switch to them on my Chromebook without any additional setup. Fast Pair has been around for quite a bit, but we’ve had little luck getting it to work the way it is supposed to. Google outlined new Fast Pair functionality alongside the Pixel Buds launch yesterday, so perhaps these will become the first headphones to get Fast Pair on Chromebooks right.