Google’s quarterly Feature Drops for its Pixel phones add exciting new features and enhancements. Since the Pixel 6 series release in October 2021, the company has released two Feature Drops with additions like Night Sight in Snapchat, a new battery widget, digital car key support, and more.
Below is a look at the new features and changes added by Feature Drops to all compatible Pixel phones since the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro launch last year.
- 1 What is Pixel Feature Drop?
- 2 June 2022 Feature Drop
- 3 Make your own music
- 4 Vaccine cards on the lock screen
- 5 New At a Glance features
- 6 Pride Month wallpapers
- 7 Conversation Mode
- 8 March 2022 Feature Drop
- 9 Night Sight in Snapchat
- 10 Live Caption for calls
- 11 Live Translate and Recorder app improvements
- 12 Assistant Quick phrases gains support for new languages
- 13 At a Glance widget improvements
- 14 Direct My Call and Wait Times
- 15 Custom text stickers
- 16 New wallpapers
- 17 December 2021 Feature Drop
- 18 Quick Tap to Snap
- 19 Digital car key
- 20 Ultra-Wideband
- 21 Car cash detection comes to more countries
- 22 New wallpapers for International Day of Persons with Disabilities
- 23 Bass boost control for Pixel Buds A-Series
- 24 Conversation mode in Sound Amplifier
- 25 Now Playing enhancements
- 26 Adjust Google Assistant’s power button activation time
- 27 Feature Drops are exclusive to Pixel devices
What is Pixel Feature Drop?
Pixel Feature Drop tends to make your phone better over time with new features and enhancements. This way, you don’t have to wait for a major Android release to take advantage of new features. That’s why Google releases a new Pixel Feature Drop once every quarter that’s usually timed with that month’s security update. In many ways, they are a point release of Android, minus the bump in version number. The company rolled out the first Feature Drop in December 2019.
You can grab the latest Feature Drop for your Pixel phone just like any other software update. Go to Settings > System > System update.
June 2022 Feature Drop
Make your own music
Google’s Feature Drops usually include helpful, but not exciting, tools. The June 2022 Feature Drop has changed this by bringing Pocket Operator. This app is exclusively for Pixels and uses machine learning to create a music video. It’s silly, but it’s a neat way of showing Google’s tech in a fun way.
Vaccine cards on the lock screen
Google knows how frustrating it can be to search through your phone for your vaccine card, especially if you’re in a hurry. Now you can attach a shortcut to your vaccine card on your homescreen. However, this feature is only available to Pixel users in Australia, Canada, and the U.S.
New At a Glance features
Google has brought three new features to At a Glance; these are:
- Nest Doorbell video feed. You can view your Nest feed, and At a Glance also tells you if someone rings your Nest Doorbell.
- Flashlight reminder. At a Glance includes a reminder that your flashlight is on, along with a nifty shortcut to turn it off.
- Air quality alerts. At a Glance alerts you if the air quality in your area goes below safe levels. This feature is only available in the U.S., Australia, and India.
Pride Month wallpapers
To celebrate Pride Month, illustrator Yann Bastard created three new Pixel wallpapers for Google.
Available through the Sound Amplifier app, Conversation mode is designed for those with hearing loss. Point your camera at someone (or let them hold it), and your Pixel filters out the background noise while amplifying their voice.
There’s also a new noise reduction feature on Google Meet, which filters out background noise.
March 2022 Feature Drop
Night Sight in Snapchat
The March 2022 Feature Drop brings Night Sight support in Snapchat on the Pixel 6 series. This means the party snaps you share on Snapchat will be of higher quality—without using flash. The feature is only coming to the Pixel 6 series.
Live Caption for calls
Live Caption on the Pixel 6 is getting a significant upgrade with the March 2022 update. The feature is primarily intended to transcribe subtitles from audio in almost real time. The latest update makes it work the other way around. When on calls, you can type text and Live Caption reads it to the caller. This improvement to Live Caption is currently only available on the Pixel 6 series.
Live Caption can also transcribe Spanish into English, French, Italian, German, or Japanese.
Live Translate and Recorder app improvements
The interpreter mode in Live Translate on the Pixel 6 series is gaining French and Spanish language support. Going forward, your phone will be able to translate conversations in these languages in real time.
The Recorder app is also being improved as part of the March 2022 Feature Drop with transcription support for Italian and Spanish languages.
Assistant Quick phrases gains support for new languages
Assistant Quick phrases on the Pixel 6 series will now support Spanish, Italian, and French languages with the March 2022 Feature Drop. Previously, it only worked in English, Japanese, and German languages. The feature allows you to “stop” a timer, “snooze” an alarm, or “answer/decline” calls, without having to say the “Hey Google” hotword first.
At a Glance widget improvements
The At a Glance widget is getting some notable improvements with the March Feature Drop. It now shows the battery level of connected Bluetooth earbuds and accessories, earthquake alerts, a safety countdown from the Personal Safety app, and reminders to turn off the alarm.
There’s a new Pixel battery widget that shows the battery level of connected Bluetooth accessories. These enhancements are available on all compatible Pixel phones.
Direct My Call and Wait Times
The March 2022 Feature Drop brings Direct My Call and Wait Times to all supported Pixel phones, from the Pixel 3a through the Pixel 5 series. The features first debuted with the Pixel 6 series in October 2021.
Custom text stickers
Gboard can now create custom text stickers on the fly based on what you are writing. The feature is rolling out globally but only supports U.S. English. So, for example, if you type “Happy Birthday Jen” and add an emoji, Gboard automatically creates a custom sticker with the text.
To celebrate International Women’s Day, the Feature Drop includes three new wallpapers. You can access them from the Curated Culture section of the Wallpaper & style menu.
December 2021 Feature Drop
Quick Tap to Snap
With the Pixel 6 series, Google debuted a Quick Tap to Snap gesture allowing users to double-tap the back of the phone to open Snapchat’s camera. The December 2021 Feature Drop expanded this functionality to the Pixel 4a 5G and newer devices.
Digital car key
The December 2021 Feature Drop enabled digital car key support on the Pixel 6 series, making it possible to unlock select 2020-2022 BMW vehicles by tapping the phone on the door handle. Additionally, you can start the car by placing your Pixel phone on the key reader and then pressing the Start/Stop button.
The UWB chip inside the Pixel 6 Pro was enabled with the December 2021 update to improve the Nearby Share experience.
Car cash detection comes to more countries
With this release, car crash detection was expanded to Taiwan, Italy, and France on compatible Pixel phones.
New wallpapers for International Day of Persons with Disabilities
To celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the December 2021 Feature Drop included a new collection of wallpapers. You’ll find them in the Curated section of the Wallpapers app on your Pixel.
Bass boost control for Pixel Buds A-Series
The last Feature Drop of 2021 introduced a handy bass boost control option for the Pixel Buds-A series. There’s a -1 to +4 slider, so you can adjust the bass range as per your liking. To customize the bass level on your Pixel Buds, follow the steps below:
- Open the Settings menu.
- Scroll down and select Connected devices.
- Tap Pixel Bud’s settings.
- Tap Sound.
- Adjust the bass level by moving the slider around as required.
The feature is also available on all Android 6.0+ devices using the companion app.
Conversation mode in Sound Amplifier
The Sound Amplifier app gained a new Conversation mode accessibility feature to make communication easier between people who are hard of hearing. It uses on-device machine learning to block surrounding noise and focus on the person’s voice that the phone’s camera is pointed at.
Now Playing enhancements
The December 2021 Feature Drop made it possible to activate Now Playing and search for a song manually. Additionally, you can save identified songs on Pixel 4 and newer devices to your favorites list from the lock screen.
A small but significant change introduced in the Feature Drop was the ability to tweak Google Assistant’s power button activation time as per your requirement.
Feature Drops are exclusive to Pixel devices
Feature Drops do a great job of adding important usability enhancements and new features to Pixel phones regularly, and you end up with a better phone than what you initially purchased. They also help set Pixel devices apart from other Android phones in the market since these feature releases are exclusive to them.