Samsung's AirPods rival just got a lot smarter. A new update lends the Galaxy Buds hands-free voice controls via Samsung's Bixby digital assistant. In addition to the usual music navigation controls, users can now also bark command to request a battery status update, change to a different equalizer preset, and lock the earbud touchpads.
Now, for the caveats: voice control only works with English and Korean at the moment, and users still have to pair the earbuds with a Galaxy phone on any Android device to use the feature.
Galaxy Earbuds Bixby Update
In addition to hands-free controls, the update also brings a number of gesture improvements. For starters, users can now activate the Ambient Sound feature by holding the touchpad of each earbud. Alternatively, they can press just one earbud touchpad to temporarily initiate the feature. These might seem like minor changes, but they go a long way toward making Samsung's pair of wireless headphones more intuitive, hassle-free, and no-frills to use. The lack of features was also noted in several product reviews, and it's a good thing Samsung listened to those early woes.
The update doesn't solve problems with audio, however. As many reviewers have noted, the Galaxy Earbuds doesn't have the best sound quality in the planet. Adding insult to injury is the fact that on-board volume controls replaced other features and its underwhelming microphone quality for calls. It's not clear if it's possible for Samsung to address these issues via a simple software update, though. The company did include a fix for duplicate end call tones, so there's that.
It should be noted that while Galaxy Buds owners can download and install the update via the Galaxy Wear companion app on any device, Bixby voice activation will not work with non-Samsung devices. That makes sense, as Bixby isn't available on non-Samsung phones.
What About Google Assistant?
As 9to5Google notes, it's great that Samsung is addressing some of the qualms related to the touchpads and adding new features, but the real draw would be if it added Google Assistant voice activation at some point down the line. However, it's not clear just how likely this is. After all, Samsung won't even let Galaxy phone owners remap the Bixby button to Google Assistant — they can remap it to any other app, just not Google's digital companion.
In any case, make sure to check back with Tech Times as we learn more. Feel free to sound off in the comments section below if you have any thoughts!