Pixel 4 XL with display on and showing the multitasking menuSource: Joe Maring / Android Central

What you need to know

  • Google announced Pixel phones will be regularly updated with new features.
  • The first feature drop will also include improvements to memory management.
  • This opens the door for more frequent performance improvements.

On December 9, Google announced the first feature drop for its Pixel smartphones, and in addition to new features that will be visible to users, Google also updated the way Pixel phones handle memory management. Google says the new memory update "proactively compresses cached applications so that users can run multiple applications at the same time — like games, streaming content and more." Specifically, Google calls out improvements to gaming and streaming content, but did not offer further details.

While the first feature drop also offered updates to Google Duo video calls and a handful of other tweaks to system apps and features, the memory improvement marks a significant step forward for Google's update plans. In the (distant) past, updates to system features like memory management would be bundled into a larger update. By parsing updates into smaller pieces and offering them through a simpler download procedure, Google can sidestep these lengthy carrier-enforced delays.

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Google says these features are already rolling out and all Pixel devices will get the new memory management. No plans were announced for future system-level updates, but Google says to expect these on a "regular basis."

Furthermore, this improved memory management is rolling out to "all Pixel devices", meaning Pixels of old and new will be able to benefit from it.

Bargain Pixel

Google Pixel 3a XL

A remarkable mid-ranger from Google

If you've been dying to get your hands on a Pixel 4 XL but can't justify its high starting price, the Pixel 3a XL was made just for you. It has the same camera found on the Pixel 3, Android 10, and it's guaranteed to get software updates and feature drops for three years.

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