To protect users from bugs and bad actors, Google rolls out monthly Android security patches. These firmware upgrades primarily consist of bug fixes, but they sometimes include new features. Going forward, instead of surprising us with new additions, Google plans to announce “feature drops,” which will “bring more helpful and fun features to [Pixel] users on a regular basis…”
First, Google is finally going on the offensive when it comes to robocallers. The company released a Call Screening feature with the release of the Pixel 3 and Android 9. Unfortunately, the feature’s main pitfall was that users had to tell their phones to screen a call manually.
Today’s update to Call Screen allows the Google Assistant to do all of the heavy lifting for you. Whenever an unknown number calls you, your Pixel will automatically check to see if it’s a robocall or someone actually attempting to get ahold of you. If the Assistant detects that it’s a real caller, you will be offered the option to answer the call. Robocallers will be rejected and added to your call log.
Second, Google Photos on Pixel will be able to add Portrait Blur to images. The company hasn’t shared too many specifics, but it appears as though you can add the Portrait Mode effect to any image backed up to Photos even if it was taken years ago on a non-Pixel handset.
Third, Google Duo is getting several user-facing upgrades. The first of which is for the Pixel 4. Thanks to its wide-angle selfie camera, Duo will automatically zoom in and frame the video to your face. If someone else enters the video, Duo will then take full advantage of the device’s wide-angle selfie camera to include them. This feature is very similar to one introduced with the Nest Hub Max.
Duo is also going to get a bit smoother. A machine learning model on the Pixel 4 will attempt to predict the audio coming from the caller in times that quality has decreased. The video calling app will also soon support the Pixel 4’s 90Hz display, allowing for even more smooth-looking video.
Google Duo now has a background blur mode. Available on Pixel 2, 3, and 4, you can now have the video focus on your face and not on a busy or messy room behind you.
The feature drop isn’t only about the Pixel 4. Google states that the below features are coming to those with older handsets:
- 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.
Last but certainly not least, this first feature drop is set to improve memory management on all Pixel smartphones. Once updated, the handset should do a better job at compressing cached apps so that multiple can run at the same time. This change should help those who switch back and forth while gaming or working in productivity apps.
Oh, and the Pixel 4 will also receive even faster location accuracy with an upcoming update in Google Maps.
Google states that all of the above features should begin rolling out to Pixel handsets today, reaching everyone within the next couple of weeks. Ensure to install any available firmware or app updates to be the first to receive the new features.