Google is trying to make Android calls “cancel calls”

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Google has been flexing its noise-canceling muscles (and custom six-core audio chips) for awhile. First, and most impressively, by using AI to suppress background noises like the crackling of snack bags, keyboard clicks, and dogs barking in Google Meet. More recently with the $199 Pixel Buds Pro — the company’s first earbuds with active noise cancellation.

A new “clear calling” feature that “reduces background disturbances during calls” is part of the Android 13 quarterly release’s first beta. On Twitter, Mishaal Rahman was the first to notice it. If you’re feeling brave, he also provided instructions on how to enable it for yourself without root.

Highlights

  • I wish wideband audio for phone calls was more widespread people just don’t sound natural on phone calls most of the time because only 300 Hz to 3.4 kHz range is used cutting out the frequencies we would hear in their voice normally. If I were in a noisy environment, will the receiver just hear nothing and then all of a sudden my voice? That could get annoying if it’s just dead silent and then voice and then silent all within my sentence.

  • My colleague Chris Welch, who knows more about noise-cancelation tech (and unannounced Sonos speakers) than anyone I know, called the ANC on the Pixel Buds Pro, “more than competent — even if it won’t be bumping Sony or Bose from the top of the mountain.” Not bad for a first effort, now let’s see how Google does with regular old phone calls.

Ive never had noise cancellation that works this way, so I would be shocked if it did. If their algorithm was developed in the past 20 years I’m sure it can distinguish between loud, mid-range vocal tones (AKA your voice) and… everything else. If you were to somehow sound identical to the background noise (very unlikely), then yes, you wouldn’t hear anything, but the algorithms are usually trained on large sets of real-world data so that would be exceedingly unlikely.

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