Google improves and adds to its Pixel devices over time with quarterly Feature Drops. The first drop of 2023 is here with new goodies galore to enjoy across a range of Google’s phones and its smartwatch. While the latest Pixel phones do gain some new features in this round, this drop mostly focuses on updating older phones with the freshest capabilities.
Pixel Phone Feature Drop
Phones first. Google is rolling out several new tools to make using your device more pleasant and convenient.
If you often find yourself taking photos at night or in the dark, Night Sight will now work more quickly on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro phones. (Google already sped up Night Sight on the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro.) Google didn’t go into specifics, but the company says the extra speed is achieved through “algorithms powered by Google Tensor.” Bottom line, snapping pix at night should be a smoother experience.
Magic Eraser, Google’s useful tool for easily deleting unwanted background items from your photos, is now coming to all Pixel phones via the Google Photos app. Whether you’re rocking a Pixel 6 Pro or a Pixel 2, you can benefit from this update and nix your exes from your pix.
(Credit: Dave LeClair)
A big time-saving feature, Direct My Call, is coming to the Pixel 4a and newer devices. Direct My Call lets you see menu options in advance when you call a business. You can zip to the decision tree option you need or want and start talking to the right person more quickly. Direct My Call is coming to the most popular toll-free numbers in the United States.
If health and fitness are important to you, Google is adding an Apple Health-like service called Health Connect to Pixel devices. It stores your health data locally on your device and provides the controls you need to manage your health and fitness data across multiple apps and services. Further, the dashboard makes it easy to control exactly which information apps can access.
Google is streamlining timers across all your Pixel devices without unlocking your phone. So, if you set a timer on a Nest speaker, it’ll appear on your phone’s At a Glance screen and vice versa. You can also disable a remote timer with a quick tap.
Other new features include Fast Pair, which is available across select Chromebooks. This makes it possible to instantly pair Pixel Buds or other Fair Pair-enabled headphones with your Chromebook. New emoji combinations are available in the Emoji Kitchen. Hold for me is now available in Japan. More regions have access to the ultra-wideband digital car key, and, finally, Pixel 7 and 7 Pro owners will soon be able to use two eSIMs with Dual SIM Dual Standby.
Pixel Watch Feature Drop
(Credit: Angela Moscaritolo)
Google is adding customization options to Pixel Watch. Devices running Wear OS 3+ will get new sound and display settings. For example, the update will allow you to use mono-audio to limit the disorientation that can be caused by split-audio. The company is also adding new color-correction and greyscale modes to help those with different vision needs.
Last, the feature drop adds fall detection to the Pixel Watch, which Google announced last month. Fall Detection can help automatically connect Pixel Watch wearers with loved ones or emergency services should the need arise.
As per usual, it may take several weeks for the updates to reach most Pixel devices.
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