Google’s Pixel phones get updates and new features much faster than other Android handsets thanks to them being a product of Google itself, which is something on Monday Google announced it’s going to start doubling down on in the form of a new regular “Feature Drop.” It’s a collection of new features for Pixel phones which will arrive on a regular basis as a complement to the normal monthly updates, and the first such “drop” is on the way this month — bringing with it new photo controls, better robocall-blocking via automatic call screening and much more.
In a Google blog post today, Group Product Manager Shenaz Zack said the new features will hit Pixel devices in the coming weeks — and to get the new features, all you have to do is make sure you’re running the latest version of Android and visit the Play Store to download the updated apps.
“Pixel phones have always received monthly updates to improve performance and make your device safe,” Shenaz notes in the post. “Now, feature drops will bring more helpful and fun features to users on a regular basis to continue to make your Pixel better than ever.”
What’s coming in the first drop:
More photo controls: It will be pretty easy to take a photo you’ve shot on your Pixel and turn it into a portrait post-snap by blurring the background. The animation below shows how you’ll be able to dip into your photo library and edit a shot with this feature coming in the new “Feature Drop” —
Call screening: The Google Assistant will now help you filter detected robocalls before one of them ever rings your phone. For non-robocalls, your phone will ring and show context about who’s calling. Also worth knowing: The Call Screen feature works on-device without using Wi-Fi or data.
Duo video calls: Per Google, video calls on the Pixel 4 thanks to new Duo features will be improved in a number of ways. “Auto-framing keeps your face centered during your Duo video calls, even as you move around, thanks to Pixel 4’s wide-angle lens. And if another person joins you in the shot, the camera automatically adjusts to keep both of you in the frame.” When you make Duo video calls on the Pixel 2, 3, and 4, you’ll also be able to apply a portrait filter.
- The Recorder app is now available on older Pixel models.
- Pixel 3 and 3a users will get Live Caption.
- Digital Wellbeing updates include Focus mode will roll out to help you minimize distractions by pausing apps you’ve selected in a single tap.
- In addition to a selection of other features, all Pixel devices will get better at memory management. “With this new enhancement,” according to Google, “your phone proactively compresses cached applications so that users can run multiple applications at the same time — like games, streaming content and more.”