Google is rolling out its biggest Pixel feature drop yet, and it includes the Pixel Watch
Today is the first Monday of the month, which means it’s time for Google to release its monthly software update for its Pixel phones. Only this time it’s special. This is actually the last Pixel Feature Drop, and not only that, but it’s the biggest ever. It even includes some new stuff for the recently launched Pixel Watch!
Let’s get into it then. The December Pixel Feature Drop brings VPN from Google One at no extra cost to Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro owners. VPNs are “built to ensure that your network traffic cannot be linked to your identity”, including by Google. This service was already available for free to Google One members on Platinum plans (2TB and above), but is now open to Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro owners regarding their Google One subscription status. The VPN still works through the Google One app.
Furthermore, the security and privacy settings have been unified in the Android settings, and this new section has action cards at the top that alert you to any security risks and give you simple steps to make things better.
Next, Clear Call on the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro enhances the other caller’s voice and reduces background noise, so you can hear them clearly even in a noisy place.
Pixel Recorder now identifies and tags each speaker and has line breaks when the speaker changes, so when you’re recording an interview or meeting each person is tagged individually. It’s all done using machine learning, live as you record, and if something goes wrong you can re-tag speakers if you want after you’re done.
The Pixel Watch will get the Fitbit Sleep Profile feature, as long as you have activated (and will keep) your Fitbit Premium subscription. This is free for six months for new Pixel Watch buyers, but after that you’ll have to pay a tenner a month to get features like this.
Sleep Profile gives you a high-definition picture of your sleep quality at a glance, takes into account aspects such as duration, consistency, disturbances, and presents you with an animal that best matches your sleep style. The results are adjusted monthly based on your personal calculations. For this to work, you’ll need to wear the Pixel Watch to bed for at least 14 days each month, so you’ll get the results on the first day of the following month. Then it is better to have the charger available.
The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro get cough and snoring detection, which you can access via Bedtime Mode. There are also new Pixel wallpapers up for grabs, and new tiles for the Pixel Watch, including a Sunrise/Sunset tile from the Weather app, while the Contacts app now lets you pin up to five contacts from your favorites so you can call them and see their details with just one tap.
Digital Car Key lets you lock, unlock and start a compatible car with your phone and can be shared with friends and family who need access to the car. This currently works “across Pixel and iPhone”, but will soon be available on “selected phones with Android 12+”, Google promises.
In addition, Gboard is getting Grammar Check in French as well, Live Translate can translate texts in your messaging apps in Arabic, Persian, Swedish, Vietnamese and Danish (on Pixel 6 and later), on-device search got more powerful on Pixel 4a and later, and Voice Message Transcription has made it to the Pixel 4a and newer phones as well.
Google also teases that spatial audio support will arrive in January for the Pixel 6, 6 Pro, 7 and 7 Pro paired with Pixel Buds Pro, but also with wired headphones. As usual with Google software updates, it could take days, if not weeks, for the December update to roll out to all supported devices, so don’t worry if you don’t have it yet.