Google Delivers the Latest Pixel Feature Drop

Posted on December 7, 2020 by Paul Thurrott in Android, Mobile with 1 Comment

Google today announced its December 2020 Pixel Feature Drop, which adds several new features to recent Pixel handsets.

“One of the best parts of Pixel is regular feature drops that make the phone better and better (and better),” Google’s Harrison Lingren explains. “With the December update, even more Pixel owners will get to experience our most recent updates, along with a few new surprises.”

Here’s what’s new.

Hold for Me. Previously available only on the Pixel 5, Hold for Me comes to Pixel 3 and newer Pixel handsets in the U.S. in English. Basically, Google Assistant waits on the line for you when you’re on hold and then lets you know when a human being shows up. Google claims this feature saves eight minutes per call on average.

Extreme Battery Saver. Now available on older Pixels, this feature lets your handset automatically limit some apps and only run the essentials so your battery lasts as long as possible.

Duo screen. Now you can watch the same video, live sporting event, or other activity with users via a new screen sharing feature in the Duo video app. (Duo screen requires Wi-Fi on 5G connectivity.)

Google Photos editor improvements. The Google Photos editor is getting new suggestions, including Dynamic, which enhances brightness, contrast, and color, and a set of sky suggestions, which help you create stunning sunset and sunrise images in just one tap.

Adaptive Sound. This feature improves the sound quality of your phone speaker based on your surroundings, Google says. It uses the microphone to assess the acoustics near you, then adjusts the sound equalizer settings in certain apps. (Some are hoping this helps make up for the horrific left/top speaker quality of the Pixel 5.)

GPS improvements. GPS is now more accurate on Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G when you’re on foot. “This means your rideshare service can find you more easily, and there’s no more guessing which side of the street you need to be on when you’re walking somewhere,” Lingren says.

Google Lens improvements. Now, the Pixel can detect if you’re viewing a website or app in a different language and translate it using Google Lens. Just swipe into App Overview, and then tap the Lens chip to see the translation.

Adaptive Battery improvements. Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G can now automatically save even more power and help preserve battery health over time by dynamically controlling how quickly the device charges. Just plug in your phone in the evening, set an alarm, and the Adaptive Charging will do the rest.

Adaptive Connectivity. This new feature for Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G helps improve battery life by automatically switching from 5G to 4G based on the app you’re using. 4G is used for things like browsing the web and sending texts, and 5G is used when you’re watching movies or downloading large files.

“The Mandalorian” AR Experience. This augmented reality app is available for 5G-compatible Pixel devices and other select 5G Android phones in the Play Store. New to this month is that owners of Pixel 3 and newer devices can customize the home screen with original new Mandalorian wallpapers.

Now Playing improvements. Your Pixel’s Now Playing feature can already identify songs that are playing around you. But now, all the tracks you hear are stored in a new Now Playing History, so you can select all the songs you heard while you were driving, watching TV, or whatever and export them to a playlist in YouTube Music.

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