Google’s latest Pixel feature drop is its biggest one to date

The Pixel 7 lying in red leaves
(Image credit: Derrek Lee / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google has announced the December 2022 feature drop for the Pixel phones, Watch, and Buds.
  • The latest update includes free VPN by Google One for Pixel 7 and 7 Pro owners.
  • Google is also rolling out new features including clear calling, recorder speaker labels, updated safety center, and Pixel wallpapers.
  • In January, the Pixel Buds Pro will gain support for spatial audio.

Google unveiled today its latest Pixel feature drop, where it brings a slew of new software tricks to its smartphone lineup and the Pixel Buds. The latest feature drop, which is Google's biggest to date, also marks the first major update for the Pixel Watch

The December drop is bringing many of the latest software features to the Pixel 4a through the Pixel 7 series and the Pixel Watch. First, Google One's free VPN service for the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro, which appeared on those models ahead of schedule, is now rolling out.

Google also wants to make sure that you hear the person on the other end of a phone call, so it's making good on its promise and is now launching Clear Calling. This feature uses machine learning to enhance the voice of the person you're calling while minimizing background noise.

You can also keep track of multiple participants in a meeting while transcribing with recorder speaker labels in the Recorder app.

Speaker labels on the Pixel Recorder app

(Image credit: Google)

"When you record and transcribe a conversation, Recorder now identifies and labels each speaker and inserts line breaks when the speaker changes," Google said in a blog post. "You can record an interview, meeting, lecture, or conversation with each person labeled individually." 

Unsurprisingly, speaker labels use machine learning to process speaker labeling powered by the Tensor G2 chip. However, it is only available on the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro, and this feature is not available in French.

Google has also refreshed its privacy and security settings, merging them into a centralized hub with new action cards to minimize any risks. In addition, Pixel Wallpapers now has a Curated Culture refresh to celebrate the International Day of People with Disabilities.

A first for the Pixel Watch

Fitbit Sleep Profiles on the Pixel Watch

(Image credit: Google)

For the Pixel Watch, Google is rolling out Fitbit's premium sleep profile feature. This capability was first announced in November and provides Pixel Watch owners the ability to gain deeper sleep insights, complete with a monthly sleep animal and longitudinal analysis of your sleep. There are new Wear tiles as well, including ones for Weather and Contacts.

In January, Google is bringing spatial audio, which users will be able to utilize with the Pixel Buds Pro, promising head tracking to give you an immersive surround sound experience. Pixel phones will be able to utilize spatial audio on both Bluetooth and wired headphones.

Google is also making the cough and snore detection feature available on Pixel 6 and 6 Pro on top of the Pixel 7 series, which already supports the feature.

Expanded availability of existing features

Google also brings a bunch of existing features to new territories and more devices. For example, Live Translate is now available in five more languages, including Arabic, Persian, Swedish, Vietnamese, and Danish. Voice Message Transcription also now supports Pixel 4a and newer, and Gboard's Grammar Check is finally available in French.

The Pixel 4a and newer devices are also receiving the unified search to make it easy to find local and web content from your device.

Lastly, you can now share a digital car key with friends and family who need access to your vehicle. This is possible across Pixels and iPhones, with plans to release it to many of the best Android phones running Android 12 or newer.

Jay Bonggolto
News Writer & Reviewer

Jay Bonggolto always keeps a nose for news. He has been writing about consumer tech and apps for as long as he can remember, and he has used a variety of Android phones since falling in love with Jelly Bean. Send him a direct message via Twitter or LinkedIn.