In a bit of a troubling report from 9to5 Google, it looks like the upcoming Pixel Buds A may lose a vital feature that made the original 2 versions of the Pixel Buds stand out in a very good way. From digging into the Pixel Buds APK (the app that connects and controls the Pixel Buds), 9to5 discovered there are clear references to a devices called “type_one” and “type_two” in the files. Those two internal names are most certainly the 2020 Pixel Buds and the upcoming Pixel Buds A. From this, there are a few notable things removed from the code for the newer ‘A’ model likely to show up at Google I/O next month.
First, there is no LED charging indicator light inside the Pixel Buds case. If leaked renders are to be believed, that LED indicator has been moved to the front on the outside of the case. No real biggie, there. But the other omission is a big one: swipe gestures. On the last two versions of Pixel Buds, swiping forward and backwards on the outside surface of the earbuds allowed users to easily control the volume of the connected device. It’s a handy feature that I used frequently (before switching to the AirPods Pro) in addition to tapping and holding to get a lot of things accomplished without needing to touch my phone. And it is a feature that few other headset makers get so right. The Pixel Buds were hands-down my favorite earbuds when it came to tapping/swiping controls. Google nailed it for sure.
If this removal ends up being the case, it will be a bummer for sure. As an AirPods Pro user, I frequently wish I could control system volume right from my earbuds. Again, this was one of the tricks I truly loved in the Pixel Buds and one of the things I was most looking forward to having again when the Pixel Buds A showed up. I understand the “A” branding is generally used by Google to denote a more affordable piece of hardware and I know they need to cut some things out to get there, but I’m saddened to think one of the best parts of the experience may not make it into Google’s 3rd attempt at truly wireless earbuds. If leaks are right and we get these announced at I/O 2021, we don’t have long to wait before we know for sure.