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Google’s December feature drop for Pixel phones is rolling out now

Google Pixel 6 Front

The internet treats even the most minor Apple software update rollouts like headline-worthy events. The same can’t be said of updates for most Android devices, but that won’t stop Google from trying. On Monday, Google announced the latest Feature Drop for its line of Pixel phones.

These quarterly updates often add a number of notable new features and bug fixes to recent Pixel generations. The December 2021 Pixel Feature Drop is no different. According to product manager Sherry Lin, these updates will start hitting Pixel 3a through Pixel 5a (5G) models today. Meanwhile, updates for the new Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro models will start arriving next week.

Pixel Feature Drop for December 2021

One of the ways that Pixel phones try to limit the number of steps required to take a photo or open an app is with Quick Tap. Simply tap on the back of your phone twice, and the Pixel will perform whatever action you set. Back in October, Google announced that Snapchat would soon leverage this feature to make the Pixel “the fastest phone to make a Snap.” Less than two months later, Quick Tap to Snap is here as part of the latest feature drop. And thus, Google kept its promise.

Google says Quick Tap to Snap is available now on the Pixel 4a and up. Also, Snapchat is adding a new Pixel-exclusive Lens called Pixel Face later this month, so keep an eye out.

Other new features coming to Pixel phones

Here are the other new features and fixes Google is bringing to its Pixel phones this month:

  • Digital car key on Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro can unlock, lock, and start some 2020-2022 BMWs.
  • Google enabled ultra-wideband on Pixel 6 Pro, improving the Nearby Share feature.
  • Conversation mode in the Sound Amplifier app is now available in beta on Pixel.
  • The Now Playing feature has a new search button for manual searches (Pixel 4 and up).
  • Pixel Buds A-Series now have improved bass-level control (Android 6.0 and up).
  • Google added 3 wallpapers in celebration of International Day of Persons with Disabilities.
  • Car crash detection is now supported in Taiwan, Italy, and France.
  • The Recorder app now supports Japanese, French, and German transcription.

Google also shared a helpful table to let Pixel users know which new features their devices support:

Pixel Feature Drop December
All of the new features in Google’s December Feature Drop for Pixel. Image source: Google

Fixes and improvements in the December update

As much as we liked the Pixel 6, it’s hard to ignore all of the issues that early adopters have run into. The good news is that in addition to all of the new features, Google also patched close to 100 bugs in its December 2021 update. Here’s an exhaustive list of all of the fixes you can expect:

Apps
  • Fix for issue causing Assistant to unintentionally start a phone call in certain conditions *[1].
  • Fix for stuck or frozen app UI in certain conditions *[7].
Audio
  • General fixes & improvements for audio playback issues in certain apps *[1].
  • Fix for issue causing audio noise in videos captured while using certain phone cases *[1].
  • Fix for issue causing microphone to cut out during calls in certain conditions *[1].
  • Fix for issue causing occasional audio glitch when adjusting volume levels *[1].
  • Fix for issue occasionally preventing audio playback from speaker in certain conditions *[1].
  • Fix for issue preventing Now Playing to search for unrecognized music *[1].
Battery & Power
  • Additional improvements for battery charging information shown in notification shade *[4].
  • General improvements for battery & thermal performance in certain conditions *[7].
  • General improvements for wireless charging in certain conditions *[5].
  • Improvements for alignment detection on Pixel Stand in certain conditions *[5].
  • Fix for issues occasionally causing incorrect Battery usage accounting to display in Settings *[7].
Biometrics
  • General improvements for fingerprint sensor stability & performance *[1].
  • Additional fixes for issues preventing enrollment of new fingerprints in certain conditions *[1].
  • General improvements for face unlock stability & performance *[6].
Bluetooth
  • General Bluetooth stability improvements for certain conditions *[3].
  • Fix for distorted audio over Bluetooth in certain scenarios *[1].
  • Fix for issue causing Bluetooth to turn on after disabling in certain conditions *[7].
  • Fix for volume adjustment issues with certain Bluetooth audio devices *[7].
Camera
  • General image quality improvements in camera preview/capture *[1].
  • General improvements for camera stability & performance *[1].
  • General improvements for auto-focus response in certain capture modes *[1].
  • General improvements for color consistency in viewfinder preview *[1].
  • Fix for issue causing blank viewfinder preview in certain conditions *[1].
Display & Graphics
  • Enable ANGLE graphics support library for certain apps and games *[1].
  • Add additional example images for display color options in Settings *[7].
  • General improvements to keep the screen on after multiple manual wakes *[7].
  • General improvements for Adaptive brightness response in certain conditions *[7].
  • Fix for occasional screen flicker during brightness adjustment *[1].
  • Fix for issue preventing Smooth Display to switch display refresh rate in certain conditions *[1].
  • Fix for issue causing screen flicker after locking or unlocking device in certain conditions *[1].
  • Fix for occasional white screen flash after display goes to sleep *[7].
Framework
  • Fix for issue causing app icons to display as pending downloads after installation completes *[7].
  • Fix for issue causing Play store app installation to pause indefinitely in certain conditions *[7].
  • Fix for issue occasionally preventing Work Profile setup to complete in certain conditions *[7].
  • Fix for issue preventing all settings or apps to be restored from backup during setup in certain conditions *[7].
Media
  • Fix for issue causing system crash during media playback in certain conditions *[7].
Network & Telephony
  • General improvements for network connection stability & performance *[7].
  • Fix for crash in Settings when toggling Airplane mode on certain network configurations *[7].
  • Fix for issue that disabled call features on certain devices or networks in certain conditions *[1].
Sensors
  • General improvements for sensor stability & response in certain conditions *[2].
  • General improvements for Quick Tap response & performance *[2].
  • General improvements for Auto-rotate response in certain device orientations *[4].
  • General improvements for Adaptive brightness response in certain conditions *[7].
  • Fix for issue preventing lift to wake and double tap to wake in certain conditions *[1].
  • Fix for issue preventing Always-on-display from turning on in certain conditions *[1].
  • Fix for issue causing unexpected haptics or vibration in certain conditions *[1].
System
  • Kernel update to 4.9.279 for Pixel 3a & Pixel 3a XL.
  • Kernel update to 4.14.243 for Pixel 4, Pixel 4 XL & Pixel 4a.
  • Kernel update to 4.19.202 for Pixel 4a (5G), Pixel 5 & Pixel 5a (5G).
  • General improvements for system stability & performance *[7]
  • Fix for issue causing device to freeze after sleeping while charging in certain conditions *[1].
  • Fix for issue occasionally preventing OTA updates to install *[7].
User Interface
  • Add Material You dynamic theming support for the device boot animation *[7].
  • Improvements for Internet tile in Quick Settings *[7].
  • Improvements for Quick Settings layout in certain device orientations *[7].
  • Fix for issue causing display to stay on during wireless charging *[5].
  • Fix for issue causing Game Dashboard icon to display over lock screen *[7].
  • Fix for issue causing incorrect colors or theme to display in Quick Settings in certain conditions *[7].
  • Fix for issue causing lock screen icons to display in notification shade in certain conditions *[7].
  • Fix for issue causing notification History & Clear all buttons to occasionally display incorrectly *[7].
  • Fix for issue causing persistent app media controls in notification shade in certain conditions *[7].
  • Fix for issue causing persistent call notification in certain conditions *[7].
  • Fix for issue causing persistent Turn off work apps button in app drawer *[7].
  • Fix for issue causing screen flicker after locking or unlocking device in certain conditions *[7].
  • Fix for issue causing Settings to crash in Conversations menu in certain conditions *[7].
  • Fix for issue causing undismissable Game Dashboard button during gameplay in certain conditions *[7].
  • Fix for issue causing app drawer to scroll to the top after clearing search query *[7].
  • Fix for issue causing certain home screen icons to appear misaligned in certain conditions *[7].
  • Fix for issue enabling Quick Settings toggles to be tapped from home screen in certain conditions *[7].
  • Fix for issue hiding date or time in Quick Settings in certain conditions *[7].
  • Fix for issue occasionally causing blank background on home screen after setting wallpaper *[7].
  • Fix for issue occasionally causing Quick Settings to pull down after unlocking device *[7].
  • Fix for issue occasionally causing UI elements to display with transparent backgrounds *[7].
  • Fix for issue occasionally displaying Work Profile badge icon on personal apps or contacts *[7].
  • Fix for issue preventing conversation bubble to be dismissed in certain conditions *[7].
  • Fix for issue preventing search results to display in Settings in certain conditions *[7].
  • Fix for occasional screen flicker in notification shade when dragging from top of screen *[7].
  • Fix for occasional flickering when quickly switching between apps in certain conditions *[7].
Wi-Fi
  • General improvements for Wi-Fi stability & performance *[7].
  • Fix for issue that would occasionally disconnect device from Wi-Fi in certain conditions *[1].
Device Applicability
  • *[1] Included on Pixel 6 & Pixel 6 Pro
  • *[2] Included on Pixel 4a (5G), Pixel 5, Pixel 5a (5G), Pixel 6 & Pixel 6 Pro
  • *[3] Included on Pixel 4a (5G), Pixel 5, Pixel 5a (5G)
  • *[4] Included on Pixel 4, Pixel 4 XL, Pixel 4a, Pixel 4a (5G), Pixel 5, Pixel 5a (5G), Pixel 6 & Pixel 6 Pro
  • *[5] Included on Pixel 4 / XL, Pixel 5, Pixel 6 & Pixel 6 Pro
  • *[6] Included on Pixel 4 & Pixel 4 XL
  • *[7] Included on Pixel 3a, Pixel 3a XL, Pixel 4, Pixel 4 XL, Pixel 4a, Pixel 4a (5G), Pixel 5, Pixel 5a (5G), Pixel 6 & Pixel 6 Pro

Jacob started covering video games and technology in college as a hobby, but it quickly became clear to him that this was what he wanted to do for a living. He currently resides in New York writing for BGR. His previously published work can be found on TechHive, VentureBeat and Game Rant.




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