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After a week-long delay, the March 2022 Pixel Feature Drop arrived on Monday as a somewhat unexciting update. It would have been a total flop if it weren’t for cross-device timers that appear in At a Glance and Google Assistant notifications. (Fun fact: For whatever reason, this feature doesn’t work with timers set on Google Home Max.) Meanwhile, Pixel 7 and 7 Pro users will benefit from the ability to have two eSIMs with Dual SIM Dual Standby too use as digital UWB car keys.
Magic Eraser for all Pixel phones was considered part of the feature drop after its announcement last month. It probably would have been better to hold this launch until this week. I don’t think older Pixel owners were expecting anything when Magic Eraser became a Google One feature for all subscribers. This expansion could easily have been the headlining ability. Speaking of extensions: Direct My Call (now Pixel 4a-5a) and Home for Me (Japan).
The other way Google could make a splash with this feature drop was by delaying the releases of Pixel Watch Fall Detection and Pixel Buds Pro Head Tracking until yesterday. This quarter could have been the big accessory update, especially since there wasn’t anything too exciting for the phone. I’m personally surprised that Watch Unlock hasn’t been announced yet. The pre-Android 14 launch window will shut down.
I would argue that Android 13 QPR2, with its many bug fixes, has been the bigger deal for most users. The curious thing is that as of yesterday, the March update is not yet available for the Pixel 6, 6 Pro or 6a. Google’s original Tensor chip is the common factor, while overshadowing the faster night vision capability.
Finally, there’s the move to the Android Beta program. Google is no longer rolling out the stable version of Android 13 QPR2 to all users. Instead, you must opt out to receive it. Namely, they must go before Android 13 QPR3 Beta 1 comes out later this week.
Once you leave the program, you must avoid the downgrade OTA. Telling users to avoid an update feels precarious, especially since there is a high risk that users will accidentally accept it and their data will be deleted. That’s the big problem here, and Google should have exercised extreme caution instead. Now you have people worrying about that data, repeatedly asking if it’s safe to exit beta.
Video: Hands-on with all the new Pixel Feature Drop additions from March 2023
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