What you need to know

  • Google is rolling out the December Pixel Feature Drop today.
  • It brings many of the features you'll find on newer Pixels to the Pixel 3 and above.
  • Today also marks the last update for the Pixel 2.

Every three months for the past year, Google has been ladling out new features to phones on its Pixel line via its Feature Drops. It's December, and so naturally, it's time for another serving of updates.

Many of these new features will be familiar if you have a Pixel 4a 5G or a Pixel 5. For older devices, they'll breathe new life into them and let users hold-off on upgrading for another year.

First, Google is rolling out Hold for Me and Extreme Battery Saver. Coming to the Pixel 3, Pixel 3a, and Pixel 4, Hold for Me lets the Google Assistant wait in the line and listen to that extremely annoying hold music for you while you do other things. Google says it saves an average of eight minutes of call-time. Extreme Battery Saver for its part, helps you squeeze out all the battery life your Pixel can handle until you can get to a charger. It slows down your device's speed, cuts off notifications and freezes apps, disables OK Google, and so on. It's called "Extreme" for a reason.

Pixel December Feature Drop ChartSource: Google

Duo and Photos also see improvements in this release. With Google Duo, you can now share your screens on group video calls as long as you're on a 5G or Wi-Fi connection. While only the two newer Pixels can make use of the former, the latter is available to all other Pixel phones. As for Photos, while Google already rolled out a redesigned editor that let you tweak your portrait images with the launch of the Pixel 5, now it's improving support for landscape images with new Dynamic suggestions.

Hold for Me on the Pixel 5Source: Google

Google is also adding Adaptive Sound, Adaptive Battery, Adaptive charging, and Adaptive Connectivity to its Pixel phones. You'll need to have a Pixel 4 5G or a Pixel 5 to make use of the latter three features though. Let's run through them real quick.

Adaptive Sound adjusts your speaker sound quality to account for your environment, adjusting the equalizer for you in "certain apps" so the sound always comes through regardless of the ambient sound around you. Adaptive Battery keeps your phone alive a little longer while you're out and about by tweaking which apps consume power based on your usage, and Adaptive Charging keeps the phone's battery alive longer by controlling how fast the battery is charged. Finally, Adaptive Connectivity intelligently swaps between 4G and 5G to save power depending on what you're doing. Texting or googling? 4G. YouTube or Netflix? 5G. If you're blessed enough to live in a place where this is a genuine choice, it's a useful battery saving feature.

Finally, the new Pixel Launcher is coming to older Pixel phones. This means you'll get the new icon shapes, the new color and font options, and new grid customization tools.

You can grab all these features on all Pixels from the Pixel 3 and above. While the Pixel 2 is getting one last update this December, it doesn't appear to be getting many (if any) of these new features.

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