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Pixel Buds 2: Fast pairing, adaptive sound and seven more tips you need to know



Pixel Buds 2 Google

Google’s Pixel Buds 2 have plenty of features you need to learn. 

Juan Garzon/CNET

Google’s Pixel Buds 2 are the real deal. They sound great, are sweat-resistant and offer a good fit courtesy of changeable tips and a fin that holds them in your ears. But there’s more to the Pixel Buds 2 than just fit and sound quality. For example, you can use these tiny gadgets to keep tabs on your inbox due to Google Assistant integration and even though they lack active noise cancellation, they’ll automatically adjust the volume to match the sound level of your environment.

From fast pairing and checking battery levels to pairing your Pixel Buds 2 with a non-Android phone, we walk you through everything you need to know about the Pixel Buds 2 below.

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Setup is as easy as 1, 2, 3

Pairing the Pixel Buds to your Android phone or tablet takes less than 30 seconds. Seriously. All you need to do is open the Pixel Buds case next to your unlocked phone and wait for the prompt. Here, this is what it looks like:

Pairing takes just a few seconds. Really. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Once the prompt shows up, tap on it and let your phone and Buds do the rest of the work. Notice the alert says the Pixel Buds will be connected to your Google account, meaning you can quickly connect to the Pixel Buds on any Android device you’re signed into. Just open the case near your other phone or tablet and wait for an alert to appear on your screen that says something along the lines of “Your saved device is available” and tap it to connect. 

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After pairing the Pixel Buds, you should see a prompt asking if you want to install the Pixel Buds app. The answer is yes, you do — the app is how you unlock more sweet features. 

If you’re pairing the Pixel Buds to a Pixel phone, you won’t have to install the app, it’s built into your device. You can access it by opening the Bluetooth settings page and tapping on the gear icon next to your Pixel Buds. 

We have instructions for pairing the Pixel Buds to a non-Android device at the bottom of this post.

Pixel Buds 2 Google

The charging case has a battery indicator, but what about the Buds? 

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Easily check the battery level

There are two main ways to check the battery status of your Pixel Buds and the charging case. You can open the Pixel Buds app, where battery stats are prominently displayed at the top. Or you can unlock your phone and open the charging case with the Pixel Buds still inside, and a second or two later, an alert will tell you everything you need to know about battery levels. 

You can charge the Pixel Buds case by placing it on a wireless charging pad, or through the USB-C port on the bottom. 


Go through the Pixel Buds tutorial so you can master the gestures and controls. 

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Learn the controls

Both Pixel Buds act as giant touch panels, allowing you to tap on or swipe across them to do things like play or pause music or prompt Google Assistant to read your notifications. Here’s a quick rundown of the gestures you have to know:

Single tap: Play/pause or answer an incoming call.

Double-tap: Skip track, end or reject a call, and stop Google Assistant.

Triple-tap: Go back a track.

Swipe forward: Turn the volume up.

Swipe backward: Turn the volume down.

Long-press: While touching either Bud, you can talk to Google Assistant, or if you release after you hear the chime, Google Assistant read your notifications. 

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In-ear detection is pretty darn cool

Don’t worry about hitting pause before you take a Pixel Bud out. They are smart enough to know when they’re in your ears, and will automatically pause when you take one out. Put it back in to resume playback. 


Adaptive Sound is a must-have feature. 

Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Magical volume control

The Pixel Buds can automagically adjust their volume based on how quiet or noisy of an environment you’re in. Adaptive Sound is turned off by default, but you can — and should — turn it on. 

Open the Pixel Buds app or settings page, tap Adaptive Sound and slide the switch to the On position. 

With Adaptive Sound turned on, your Pixel Buds will make subtle adjustments to their volume levels as the noise around you changes. If you make any manual adjustment, Adaptive Sound will temporarily stop making changes until the ambient noise significantly changes. Pretty cool stuff. 


Google Assistant adds an extra layer of features to the Pixel Buds 2 you shouldn’t skip over. 

Jason Cipriani/CNET

Set up Google Assistant

After initial pairing, you’ll be asked if you want to set up Google Assistant on the Pixel Buds. Doing so means Google Assistant will read new alerts from apps of your choosing and let you reply without picking up your phone.

Of course, the normal Google Assistant-type tasks will also be possible, like controlling a smart light or adjusting your Nest thermostat. 

Open the Pixel Buds app and tap on Google Assistant to start the setup process, which includes giving Assistant access to your phone’s notifications. Once done, you can tailor which app notifications you’ll have read to you automatically and control whether or not the Pixel Buds will respond to the “Hey, Google” wake phrase. 

Pixel Buds 2 Google

The Find Device feature may save you one day. 

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Find a lost Bud

Completely wireless earbuds are amazing, but they’re also very easy to lose. One second you’re listening to your favorite tunes, then you take one out and set it down and walk away. Thankfully, Google included a tool that helps you find your lost Bud into the Pixel Buds app. 

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Open the app and select Find Device. Next, tap on the Bud that’s missing and then listen. The Bud will start playing a sound, quiet at first, slowly getting louder until you hopefully find it. 

Pixel Buds 2 Google

Pairing with a non-Android device is painless. 

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Pair with an iPhone, PC or Mac

The Pixel Buds can be used with any Bluetooth-capable device like an iPhone, iPad ($314 at Best Buy), Mac or PC. Granted, you won’t get to use some of the more advanced features like fast pairing and Google Assistant, but all is not lost. You’ll still have auto-pause and play, and volume control gestures, along with tap control, will also work. 

Follow these steps to pair your Pixel Buds with a non-Android device:

1. With the Pixel Buds in the charging case, open it, then press and hold in the button on the back of the case. 

2. The white light between the Buds will begin to blink.

3. Open the Bluetooth settings menu on your device and look for your Pixel Buds. 

4. Select your Pixel Buds on your device and follow the prompts to complete pairing.

Pixel Buds 2 Google

Factory reset your Pixel Buds 2 using the button on the back of the charge case. 

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Factory reset your Pixel Buds

If you’re ready to pass your Pixel Buds along to someone else, or just want to start over, you can factory reset them with ease. Start charging the case via the USB-C port, with the Pixel Buds inside it, then press and hold the button on the back until the pairing light stops blinking. 

The light will then blink white and orange for a few seconds, and then return to blinking just white indicating the reset is complete.

Now that you’ve mastered your Pixel Buds 2, it’s time to master your Android phone. We found some killer hidden features, and have a complete walkthrough of all the Android 10 gestures. And we can’t forget to mention our guide to the rest of the important Android 10 features you need to know

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