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As with SNLs not hosted by John Mulaney, the quality of Pixel Feature Drops has varied. What follows is an abridged list of the more significant additions in each quarterly update:
December 2019: Portrait Blur, Auto-Call Screen, Google Duo Auto-Framing + smoother audio with ML + Portrait Filter, Digital Wellbeing Focus Mode, better memory management March 2020: Pixel 4 Motion Sense Play/Pause, Duo AR effects, depths -Selfies, new emoji, cards & passes, adding boarding pass screenshots to Google Pay, sunrise/sunset planning with dark theme, Rules June 2020: Adaptive battery improvements, Bedtime in Google Clock, Recorder NGA + Google Docs integration September 2020: Android 11, Google Maps Live View for Location Sharing, Gboard Smart Reply, App Suggestions in Dock, Recent Menu, Folder Name Suggestions Emoji, Duo Screen Sharing in Group Calls, Google Photos Editing Suggestions, GPS Improvements ter-Camera- Case Accessory App, Gboard Smart Compose, Pixel Stand Bedtime Screen June 2021: Night Vision Time Lapse Video, Locked Folder, NGA Can Answer/Reject Calls, Gboard Copy Highlight hts, Digital Wellbeing Heads Up December 2021: Pixel 6 Pro UWB for Nearby Share, Digital Car Keys, Customize Assistant Power Button Hold Time, Sound Booster Talk Mode, Quick Tap to Snap, Now Playing Cloud Search, Pixel Buds A-Series Bass Control March 2022: At-a-glance (Bluetooth battery status, earthquake alerts, safety check countdown, turn off holiday alarms), battery widget, night vision in Snapchat, custom Gboard stickers, live captions call input June 2022: Up at a glance (Nest Doorbell Video Feed, Flashlight Reminder, Air Quality Alerts), Pocket Operator, Save Digital Vaccination Cards to Google Pay, Sound Booster Talk Mode December 2022: Google One VPN, Recorder Speaker Labels, Pixel 7 Clear Calling, Security and Privacy Menu, Pixel Launcher Unified Search, Live Bloom Wallp Aper
Some feature drops introduce more than others, and March 2023 is shaping up to be a bigger one when you look at Pixel phones, Watch, and Buds Pro.
The Pixel Watch could take center stage with fall detection – just this week we revealed how it will work – due out this winter, ending March 20, while Watch Unlock is long overdue. At CES 2023, Google showed off a Pixel Watch that can unlock a paired phone. It was first announced for Wear OS in January 2022, and we’ve since learned that it will require Android 13.
Meanwhile, we previously reported that Gmail and Google Calendar Wear OS apps are in development, while a Google News app/Tile has been spotted. It would also be great if Fitbit enabled SpO2 on the Pixel Watch, while Spring will bring the $129 Metal Mesh Band and $199 Metal Links Band.
Finally, we’re still waiting for the Pixel Buds Pro update, which will enable spatial audio with head tracking.
Firstly, Android 13 should be the next upgrade for ChromeOS, but personally I’m more excited to see the Material You browser and other parts of the UI getting a makeover. I’m still pessimistic about Android on Chromebooks, but there’s finally a service that’s better as an app than a website: Google Keep. The dual pane UI resulting from Google’s big screen optimization push is awesome and better than keep.google.com.
Insight: From Contacts to Google TV, more first-party Android widgets are coming after a hiatus. The latest additions were tablet-optimized widgets for Drive and Keep in September. Google Contacts upcoming widgets are quite nice and smooth. They are the basic widget as they are faster than opening and navigating the full app.
Uptrend: Google Fiber just rolled out a 5-gigabit tier and announced its next two cities as part of the five-state expansion announced last year.
It currently lists 25 markets (including several “coming soon”) in 16 states. That’s a far cry from nationwide coverage as others, particularly cellphone providers, offering home internet are going into overdrive. Traditional ISPs have also made more noise about fiber optic services.
For now, Google Fiber — an Alphabet company and not part of Google despite the name — appears to have good to maybe good prospects, but it doesn’t appear to be a revolutionary product that will massively scale. If nothing changes, its path to wider availability will literally remain digging and building. This may be enough to keep the business going, but it’s a far cry from its ambitious origins.
What (else) happens:
Update: Assistant Reminders to Google Tasks migration begins in March
Review: Samsung Galaxy S23 Ultra – Excellent battery life, disappointing camera
Tip: The Google Home app can now control your Xbox remotely
Video: One UI 5.1 hands-on: What’s new for existing Samsung Galaxy devices?
First, Google rewrites Android’s Settings app step-by-step with Jetpack Compose
Tip: The Google Home app is now the easiest way to control the Philips Hue Play HDMI Sync Box
9to5Mac: This is the iPhone 15 Pro: Thinner bezels, thicker “curve” design, no Lightning port, more
Electrek: VW Golf is to be an entry-level ID 2 EV with an upgraded MEB Plus platform
Connect The Watts: WHOOP announces lower prices and new features
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