Google has released its monthly software update for the Pixel phones. This time, however, it’s the biggest Google Pixel feature drop ever. It even includes some new features for the recently introduced Pixel Watch. First of all, VPN via Google One is now available at no additional cost for Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro owners. The VPN is “built to help ensure your network traffic can’t be tied to your identity”. The service was already available for free to Google One members with Platinum plans (2TB and above). Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro owners can now use it regardless of their Google One subscription status. However, the VPN still works through the Google One app.
Security and privacy settings in Android settings have been unified. The new section has cards at the top that provide information about security risks and simple tips for improvement. Next, Clear Calling on the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro improves the caller’s speech quality and reduces their background noise.
The Pixel Recorder now identifies and labels each speaker. It also inserts line breaks when the speaker changes. It’s all done by machine learning, live as you record. If something doesn’t fit together, you can reassign the individual speakers after you’ve finished.
The Pixel Watch gets the Fitbit sleep profile feature as long as you have an active Fitbit Premium subscription. That’s free for six months for new Pixel Watch buyers. The sleep profile provides an at-a-glance picture of sleep quality, taking into account aspects such as duration, consistency, and interruptions. The results are adjusted monthly based on personal values. In order for the whole thing to work, you have to take your Pixel Watch to bed for at least 14 days every month. The results come on the first day of the following month.
Google Pixel 6 / Pixel 6 Pro
The Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro get cough and snore detection in bedtime mode. There are also new Pixel wallpapers and new tiles for the Pixel Watch, including a sunrise/sunset tile from the Weather app. You can now pin up to five contacts in the Contacts app.
Google Pixel Feature Drop brings digital car keys
With the digital car key you can lock, unlock and start a compatible car with your mobile phone. You can also share the keys with friends and family. This currently works “across Pixel and iPhone“, but will soon come to other “select phones with Android 12+”.
Gboard also gets a grammar checker in French. Live Translate can translate text in messaging apps into Arabic, Persian, Swedish, Vietnamese and Danish (on Pixel 6 and newer). And the search function got more powerful starting with the Pixel 4a. In addition, there is now the transcription of voice messages from the 4a.
In January, support for spatial audio for the Pixel 6, 6 Pro, 7 and 7 Pro in connection with the Pixel Buds Pro, but also with wired headphones will come. As is usual with Google software updates, it may take days, if not weeks, for the December update to be available on all supported devices.