New Pixel Feature Drop brings a lot of goodies

Google has a new Pixel Feature Drop for owners of Pixel devices. All of these are headed to the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, but for the rest of the Pixels that are still supported, you’ll be getting a subset of “relevant updates”, according to Google.

Anyway, let’s dive right into the drop. The December Pixel Feature Drop puts Snapchat on your lock screen (if you want it to be there), with Quick Tap to Snap. This means you’ll be able to make a Snap quicker than on any other device, Google boasts. Also, “starting this month”, you’ll be able to add a new Pixel-exclusive Lens called Pixel Face to your Snaps. This feature is coming to the Pixel 4a 5G and newer phones.

Next up, car keys. As already announced, the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro can now act as your digital car key for select 2020-2022 BMW models “in certain countries”. Ultra-wideband is now enabled on the Pixel 6 Pro, and this improves Nearby Share.

Conversation mode is a new “early-stage” accessibility feature found in the Sound Amplifier app, and it’s now available in beta on Pixels. This uses on-device machine learning to help you better hear conversations in loud environments by tuning into your conversation partner’s voice and tuning out competing noise.

The Now Playing experience gets an upgrade too – if it can’t automatically find a song, you can turn on the new search button and tap to let the Pixel find the song for you – this is vaguely worded in Google’s press release, but we’re assuming that once you tap that button the search will be performed online, unlike the automatic identification which is done entirely on-device.

There are new wallpapers too, in celebration of the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, and you can find these in the Curated Culture collection.

Car crash detection support expands to Taiwan, Italy, and France, in addition to Spain, Ireland, Japan, the UK, Australia, Singapore, and the US. When this feature is turned on in the Personal Safety app, your Pixel 3 or newer model can help detect if you’ve been in a severe accident. If a crash happens the phone will check with you to see if you’re OK, and if there’s no response, it can share you location with emergency responders.

The Recorder app supports new languages for transcription: Japanese, French, and German, on Pixel 3 and newer.

Finally, the Pixel Buds A-Series haven’t been forgotten either, and they’re getting improved bass-level control. On any device running Android 6 or later, you can open the Pixel Buds app and adjust bass from -1 to +4 with a slider.


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