- Some new Pixel drop features are reserved for the latest devices
- VPN feature is only available in some countries
- Some apps require their own individual updates
Google's latest and last feature drop for 2022 has arrived and it brings plenty of features to its recently launched Pixel devices. The update process is a bit complicated as some of the features get activated via individual app updates while others will need the new December 2022 security update (around 400-471MB) to be installed, which is rolling out separately in phases. Another detail users need to keep in mind is that not all features listed below are rolling out in all regions.
With the latest Pixel feature drop, the search giant is now adding VPN functionality to its smartphones and this comes at no extra cost to users who are on the Premium 2TB Google One plan. The feature offers network level protection for the Pixel device both for its apps and web browser traffic. Family members who are part of the subscriber's family group can also access the VPN service on up to 6 devices. The feature is currently available in 20 countries worldwide, but this list does not include India for now.
The feature drop also brings a new section in Settings called ‘Security and Privacy', which basically combines the two parts into one section, displaying all the necessary security and privacy related information in one place, which is easier to glance through and review. Google has also included new action cards to alert users of security risks and any unwanted activities.
Another new feature will make calls sound clearer. Available under Settings>Sound and vibration>Clear Calling, the feature aims to make calls sound clearer by reducing background noise and enhancing voices. However, this feature is only available on Tensor G2-powered devices, which currently include the Pixel 7 and the Pixel 7 Pro. Also, part of the feature drop is the new Pixel Recorder feature, that can now identify and label each speaker individually when recording and transcribing a conversation.
The feature drop also brings Premium Fitbit Sleep Profiles and related sleep data to your Pixel device. It still needs a Pixel Watch to pull off the same, but if you happen to own one, you can now get better insights into your sleeping patterns on your Pixel smartphone. Users will need to be a Fitbit Premium subscriber to access the same.
One feature that's coming to more smartphones than the others are the new customisation features. This would include new static wallpapers curated by author Morgan Harper Nichols to celebrate International Day of People with Disabilities. There's also a new Live Bloom wallpaper collection with 4 wallpapers of flowers that replicate a parallax effect when you move or orient your smartphone.
Pixel Watch owners will be happy to know that there's now a new set of tiles (or widgets) for more apps to make glanceable information from them easier to access. There's a new Sunrise/Sunset Tile from the Weather app and a new favourites tile for the Contacts app.
Existing features like the Digital car key, Grammar check on GBoard, Live translate in text messages, and Voice Message Transcription are now supported on more recent Pixel devices and are available in more regions.
A long-promised feature for the Pixel Buds Pro called spatial audio has not arrived with this feature drop, but Goggle in its blog post claims that it will be available in January 2023. Google explained that the feature “will support spatial audio with head tracking, so you'll feel like you're right at the centre of your favourite movies and shows” and that users will also be able to turn on spatial audio with wired earphones as well.