Google’s first ‘Pixel Feature Drop’ brings improvements to Photos and Duo, Call Screen, and memory tweaks


The December security patch began rolling out last week to a smattering of handsets including most of the Pixels, as well as, surprisingly, the Galaxy Note 9 and Note 10. Pixel 4 owners were left waiting as Google delayed its OTA so that more fixes and features could be crammed into the ‘feature drop’, which is now rolling out.

The ‘feature drop’ brings the usual bug fixes and improvements, including enhanced memory management across all supported Pixel handsets, which means that apps shouldn’t be closed down so aggressively.

Google Photos

Google’s Photos app gains a new trick that enables it to add blur to any photo that you’ve taken, regardless of whether it was shot in portrait mode or not. Depending on the image, the Photos app will alert you to the possibility of tapping the background to add the blur effect instantly or you’ll need to add it manually via the editor.

Call Screen

Robocalling is like the most frustrating game of Whack-a-Mole, as soon as you block one cold caller’s number, another one phones you on an ever so slightly different number. Now the Google Assistant will filter out detected robocalls before your phone even rings, and if it isn’t a robocall? Well, your phone will ring a few moments later with helpful information on who is calling and why. Google says that the Call Screen feature is processed on the phone and does not use Wi-Fi or mobile data.

Duo Call Improvements

The Duo app gets a couple of handy new features which includes Auto-framing that uses the Pixel 4’s wide-angle lens to keep your face centered during your video calls even while you move. And, if another person joins you in the shot, the camera will adjust so that both of you are in view. Playback is smoother with the Pixel 4’s machine learning model predicting the probably next sound, resulting in fewer disruptions.

You can also apply portrait filters when making using the Duo app to make video calls on Pixel 2, 3, and 4 handsets, blurring the background behind you.

Other notable features:

In addition to new features for Pixel 4, the following new apps and features are coming to the Pixel 2, 3 and 3a:

  • The Recorder app is now available on older generations of Pixel.
  • Pixel 3 and 3a users will get Live Caption. 
  • Digital Wellbeing is getting updates too. Focus mode is rolling out to help you stay productive and minimize distractions by pausing apps you’ve selected in a single tap. You can now set an automatic schedule, take a short break or end Focus mode early without disrupting your schedule.
  • Flip to Shhh will also join the Digital Wellbeing features on Pixel 2 and 2XL.
  • If you use a Pixel 4 in the UK, Canada, Ireland, Singapore, and Australia, you’ll soon get the new Google Assistant (English only), which is even faster and more helpful.

The Pixel feature drop contents will roll out via the December security patch as well as Play Store app updates.

Source: Google

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He’s been an Android fan ever since owning an HTC Hero, with the Dell Streak being his first phablet. He currently carries a Huawei P30 Pro and a Huawei MediaPad M5 (8.4) in his pockets and thinks nothing of lugging a 17-inch laptop around in his backpack. When not immersed in the world of Android and gadgets, he’s an avid sports fan, and like all South Africans, he loves a good Braai (BBQ).




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