Google finally takes the wraps off the March 2023 Pixel feature drop
New features for Pixel smartphones and the Pixel Watch.
What you need to know
- Google has announced the latest Pixel feature drop for March 2023.
- Improved Night Sight is coming to the Pixel 6 series, and older Pixel phones will have access to enhanced Direct My Call.
- Google also highlights the arrival of Fall Detection on the Pixel Watch.
- Chromebooks have begun receiving Fast Pair support with the most recent Chrome OS update.
After missing its window last week, Google is finally detailing the latest Pixel feature drop which has begun rolling out to several generations of Google smartphones. This feature drop brings some new camera and calling features and more to current and older Pixel phones, with some features arriving in the coming weeks.
For the Pixel 6 series, Google is bringing the same Night Sight enhancements that it launched alongside the Pixel 7. That means the phones will be faster at capturing and processing low-light images, giving you more time to prepare your next shot. This will be available for the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, although it looks like the Pixel 6a will miss out on this enhancement.
For owners of Nest speakers and displays, Google is syncing timers across Pixel phones. This way, your Pixel At a glance widget will display a timer you set from your Nest device, and you can easily deactivate it with a tap.
Furthermore, older Pixel phones are receiving access to one of Google's newer calling features. Direct My Call is arriving on the Pixel 4a and newer, allowing users to view menu options during a call before they're even spoken, allowing users to navigate automated menus faster.
Google is also expanding some features to new devices and regions. The company already detailed how Magic Eraser is expanding to more Android phones, including older Pixel devices. While other devices require a subscription to Google One, older Pixel phones will be able to access the feature without it.
Hold For Me, which has been available in the U.S., Australia, and Canada, is now expanding to Japan. And the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro are also receiving support for Dual SIM Dual Standby so owners can use two eSIM profiles on their phones.
Lastly, Google's Health Connect app will not be pre-installed on Pixel phones so users can take better control of their health data across applications.
As for the Pixel Watch, Google is primarily highlighting features that were previously touched on in the recent Android feature drop. That includes the new fall detection feature that has already begun rolling out on the smartwatch.
Another feature detailed in the Android feature drop is the new accessibility settings for display and audio. "In the coming weeks," owners of Wear OS 3 watches will be able to switch to mono-audio and enable new color-correction and greyscale modes.
After quite a wait, Fast Pair is finally available on Chromebooks as part of ChromeOS 111. This will make it easier to pair compatible devices like Pixel Buds Pro to your Chromebook just by opening the charging case or turning on a Bluetooth device near the Chromebook.
Google is also highlighting new Gboard Emoji Kitchen mashups to celebrate the impending arrival of spring. You can also find new basketball-related mashups like heart-shaped basketballs.
Lastly, in the coming weeks, owners with compatible BMWs will be able to use their Pixels as digital car keys to unlock their cars without taking their phones out of their pockets. With Ultra Wideband on the Pixel 6 Pro and Pixel 7 Pro, the car will also lock itself when you leave your car, giving you added peace if you often forget to lock your car.
In addition to these new features, Google's March 2023 update carries plenty of bug fixes for Pixel phones. The update begins rolling out today and will arrive over the next few weeks depending on the device and carrier.
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The Pixel 7 Pro is the best smartphone ever made by Google. A powerful AI chip allows you to take amazing images, and because it's a Google phone, you get first dibs and exclusive access to new features and updates.
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Derrek is a long-time Nokia and LG fanboy who loves astronomy, videography, and sci-fi movies. When he's not working, he's most likely working out or smoldering at the camera.