Every few months, Google releases Feature Drops with new features and fixes for its Pixel phones. While 2022 may be nearly over, that hasn’t stopped Google from pushing one final Feature Drop before the year ends.
This latest Feature Drop is primarily focused on adding features to the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro that Google announced in October when it first unveiled the phones. The first big addition is free Google One VPN access. Anyone with a Pixel 7 or 7 Pro can use a Google One-powered VPN at no additional cost — this is great for more secure web browsing. Considering Google’s VPN is traditionally only available with a $10-per-month Google One subscription, it’s a nice value add we’re happy to see.
Google’s also rolling out its Clear Calling tech, which reduces background noise during phone calls and enhances people’s voices, aiming to make calls easier to hear. The last Pixel 7-exclusive feature is Recorder speaker labels. If you’re recording a conversation between multiple people with the default Recorder app, your Pixel 7/7 Pro can now add labels to each person speaking and intelligently know who’s talking.
What about folks rocking an older Pixel phone? Everyone with a current Pixel now has access to the improved security and privacy settings, something Google describes as “a new unified hub for reviewing your security and privacy settings, risk levels, and other information all in one place.” This hub can also display “action cards” for new security risks that you should be aware of. Finally, the Curated Culture section of the Pixel Wallpapers app sees a refresh of new wallpapers celebrating people with disabilities.
But it’s not just Pixel phones getting the love. This also marks the first Pixel Watch Feature Drop, and there are two key things coming to the wearable.
The biggest feature is support for Fitbit Sleep Profiles. Google announced Sleep Profiles for the Pixel Watch in November, but they’re now rolling out more widely to users. After wearing your Pixel Watch to bed for at least 14 nights, you’ll see more detailed stats about your sleep and receive tips on how to improve it.
Lastly, the Pixel Watch is getting a few new Tiles for easier access to apps on your home screens. These include Tiles for the Contacts and Weather apps.
That’s what you can expect on your Pixel phone and Pixel Watch when the Feature Drop arrives over the next few days — but what’s coming after that?
In January, Google says it’s adding spatial audio support for the Pixel Buds Pro. Similar to spatial audio for Apple earbuds like the AirPods Pro 2, this will enable the Pixel Buds Pro to produce audio in a 3D-like soundstage when watching shows and movies. And later in 2023, the Pixel Watch will finally get fall detection support (something the Apple Watch has enjoyed for the last four years).