What can users expect from Google’s Pixel feature drop?

10 Dec 2019

Image: Google

Google’s update to the Pixel series will include new photo editing tools, memory management and automatic call screening to filter out cold calls.

Google has started running ‘feature drops’ for its Pixel smartphones as part of a new way to regularly provide users with the latest features. The tech giant began rolling out the first Pixel package yesterday (9 December).

The feature drop includes greater photo editing controls, allowing handset owners to blur the background of images, even if they were taken some time ago. It will allow users to manually edit the background and the subject of the photo to add to some of the phone’s portrait features. The Pixel 4 will also offer users suggested actions as well as allowing them to make manual edits.

Additionally, there will be improvements made to audio and video quality during Duo calls. Google said it is now using machine learning to predict audio when the signal drops, so that users can catch each and every word.

Video chat app Google Duo will also see another new feature, which Google has called “auto-frame”. This will automatically detect a subject’s face and centre on it in the call. If a friend, family member or co-worker hops in front of the camera too, Duo will zoom out and widen the frame to include them in the shot.

Upcoming changes

As part of the update, Google said Pixel 4 devices in the UK and Ireland will be “soon” receive a new faster and more helpful voice-powered Google Assistant.

Meanwhile, the new Recorder app is due to arrive on older generations of the Pixel, while Pixel 3 and 3a handsets will be able to experience Live Caption, the company’s new AI-driven audio captioning option.

Google said it will also roll out an update to its memory management to “proactively compress” background apps in a bid to make the Pixel run more smoothly when multitasking.

Users in the US will have an additional feature – automatic screening of robocalls to silently filter out cold calling. If it’s not spam, a description of who’s calling and why is provided, so users can decide if they wish to pick up. There is no word on when this feature will be extended to users in Ireland or Europe.

Prior to the release of the Google Pixel 4, which came out in October, we reviewed the device and its impressive camera. Today’s announcement is expected to add to the appeal of the device, which is competing against the iPhone 11 Pro.

– With additional reporting from PA Media

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic