Pixel Feature Drop adds Adaptive Sound, new Google Photos suggestions, and more
The bad news is today is Monday. The good news is Google has announced a new Pixel Feature Drop, which brings some newer features to older Pixel phones and introduces what the company describes as a “few new surprises.”
Some of the more interesting new features adapt your Pixel device to you. One of them is called Adaptive Sound. Google says the feature can improve the sound quality of your phone speaker based on your surroundings. “It uses the microphone to assess the acoustics near you, then adjusts the sound equalizer settings in certain apps,” Google said. “Bringing your Pixel from the bedroom to the bathroom while you’re getting ready in the morning? Your audio will sound great wherever you are.” We previously detailed this feature last week, and today Google made it official, but only for the Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5.
The Pixel Feature Drop also includes “content-aware battery features,” with improvements to Adaptive Battery and a new Adaptive Charge feature, the latter of which helps preserve battery health over time by dynamically controlling how quickly a Pixel device charges. The enhancements to Adaptive Battery are only available on the Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5 at this time, but the new Adaptive Charge feature is available on the Pixel 4 series, Pixel 4a 5G, and Pixel 5 following an update to Device Health Services.
Google has also introduced Adaptive Connectivity, which will automatically switch the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G from 5G to 4G based on the app you’re using. For things like browsing the web or sending a text, it’ll choose 4G. When you’re watching a movie or downloading large files, it’ll switch to 5G. We previously detailed this feature when it appeared in the Android 11 Developer Previews as “Enhanced Connectivity“.
Next up is an enhancement to the Google Lens integration in the recent apps overview. If you’re viewing a website or app in a different language and you swipe up into the recent apps overview or take a screenshot, Google Lens will show a translation chip that you can quickly tap to translate the given text into your native tongue.
Google said GPS on Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a (5G) is also now more accurate when you’re on foot, making it easier for a ride share service to find your location. The improved GPS isn’t available at launch in all countries or locations, and requires an internet connection and Android 8.0 or later.
Pixel owners will also have more personalization options at their disposal thanks to the Pixel Feature Drop. You can choose new icons for your Home Screen, grid size views, and app shapes. You can also choose custom wallpapers captured on Pixel phones or of famous artworks provided by cultural institutions from around the world on Google Arts & Culture. (We have all the wallpapers available for download here.) Google also said Pixel 3 and newer devices can customize their Home Screen with original new Mandalorian wallpapers.
The last update expands the Now Playing music recognition feature. In your Now Playing history, you can select the songs you saved and export them to a playlist in YouTube Music.
Meanwhile, Google said it’s rolling out some Pixel 5 features to Pixel 3 and newer devices. One of the features is Hold for Me, which helps users save time when they’re put on hold by a business; the feature is available in the U.S. in English. Google is also rolling out Extreme Battery Saver, Google Duo screen sharing in group calls, and is introducing new suggestions in Google Photos. The new suggestions include Dynamic to enhance brightness, contrast, and color as well as a set of sky suggestions (that we previously discovered) to create sunrise and sunset images in a single tap.
Google has dropped new features for Pixel devices throughout the year, recently introducing Recorder and Docs integration with Assistant over the summer. These latest updates are rolling out to Pixel devices beginning today.