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Galaxy Buds: 11 tips and tricks to master Samsung's AirPods competitor – CNET

Samsung’s Galaxy Buds are similar to Apple’s AirPods, in that they are completely wireless earbuds, use a compact charging case, and have exceptional battery life. But what sets the Galaxy Buds apart from AirPods is their Android-first focus, which allows for features like message notifications and playback controls.

Whether you’re using a Pixel 3 or a Galaxy S10, pairing is simple, tap interactions are customizable, and app alerts are a breeze to set up. Here’s how to do just that, plus a few extra tips.

Pairing


Jason Cipriani/CNET

Pairing the Galaxy Buds with a Galaxy phone is pretty simple. Open the case, wait a few seconds, tap a button and you’re done.

It can be more nuanced than that, though. We have a full post with all the pairing details you need to know right here

One tap, two taps, three taps, more?

Either Galaxy Bud will respond to taps and allow you to control music playback or interact with your phone without having to touch your phone. The number of taps on the middle of the Galaxy Bud will determine what happens:

  • Single tap: Play/Pause
  • Double tap: Play next track/Answer or end call
  • Triple tap: Play previous track
  • Touch and hold: Customizable (see below)

If you tap and hold on either Galaxy Bud when your phone begins ringing, it will decline the call.

Customize touch and hold

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Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

You can customize what happens when you touch and hold on either Galaxy Bud, assigning separate tasks. Open the Galaxy Wearable app, select your Galaxy Buds from the list of devices, and then select Touchpad.

Each Galaxy Bud has three potential settings for the tap-and-hold interaction: Voice command, Quick ambient sound, or volume up/down.

Selecting volume up or down for either respective bud will automatically apply the opposite direction of volume control to the other bud. Meaning, if you assign volume down to the left bud, the right bud will change to volume up.

Lock the touchpad

Lock the touchpad on your Galaxy Buds in the Galaxy Wearable app under the Touchpad section. Doing so will prevent the touchpads from responding to any taps.

Charging

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Jason Cipriani/CNET

On the back of the Galaxy Buds case is a USB-C port for charging the case, or if you have a Qi-compatible wireless charging pad, you can place the case on the pad and it will charge without any wires. 

For those who own a Galaxy S10, you can use the phone’s Wireless PowerShare feature to add some extra power to the case while on the go. Battery life on a single charge for the Galaxy Buds should get you around six hours of use.

Auto-pause

If you remove both Galaxy Buds, whatever was playing will automatically pause. There’s no setting or hidden button you need to enable beforehand, it’s a built-in feature.

However, putting the Galaxy Buds back in will not auto-resume whatever it was you were playing. You’ll need to single tap on either touchpad for that to happen.

Ambient sound

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Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Galaxy Buds will allow you to hear ambient sound around you, say in an airport or while working out. You can either set the touch and hold action to activate Ambient Sound on demand, or you can enable and customize the feature in the Galaxy Wearable app under Ambient Sounds.

The settings will allow you to adjust the amount of ambient sound that comes through, as well as enable a feature that amplifies voices.

You don’t have to use both

If you want to extend the battery life of the Galaxy Buds, one option is to only use one earbud at a time, leaving the other one in the charging case. 

Outside of extending battery life, this is also an option for those who don’t like the ambient sound feature of the Galaxy Buds.

Notifications

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Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Initial setup of Galaxy Buds asks you to grant the earbuds access to your phone’s notifications. That’s because when using the Galaxy Buds, an alert followed by the app name can play in your ear.

In the Galaxy Buds section of the Galaxy Wearable app, select Notifications and customize the list of apps you want to receive alerts for. The notifications content isn’t ready, but instead, you’ll hear an alert followed by “Slack” or “Facebook.”

Find a lost earbud

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Screenshots by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Also built into the Galaxy Wearable app is the ability to help you track down a lost earbud. Your phone will need to be within Bluetooth range of the lost Galaxy Bud, so that may be a nonstarter in some situations. 

Open the Galaxy Wearable app and view your Galaxy Buds. Select Find My Earbuds, then press the green Play button. Both buds will begin playing a sound, getting louder as it plays, in a bid to help you find it.

Check for software updates

This is the prompt you’ll see when Galaxy Buds have a software update. 


Screenshot by Jason Cipriani/CNET

Samsung has regularly released updates for the Galaxy Buds since launch. Most of the time, the Galaxy Wear app will let you know when there is an update, but you can manually check for one as well. 

Open the Galaxy Wear app and navigate to the Galaxy Buds section. Scroll to the bottom of the list and select About earbuds. Next, select Update earbuds software followed by Download and install then follow the prompts. 

If there is an update available, place your earbuds in the charging case and leave it open. The update will download, copy over to your earbuds, and then be installed. The entire process takes less than five minutes. 

Originally published Mar. 8, 2019.
Update, April 15, 2019: Updated with more information.

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