Google's second Pixel feature drop brings Car Crash Detection, Motion Sense improvements, and more

Google Pixel 3a
Google Pixel 3a (Image credit: Andrew Martonik / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google has released the March feature drop for Pixel 2, 3, and 4 family users.
  • With this update, the firm has added new features like Motion Sense improvements for the Pixel 4, fast access to cards and passes, and new AR features for Duo.
  • UK and Australian users can also expect to find access to Car Crash Detection added to their devices.

Last year, Google announced that it would be releasing quarterly feature drops for Pixel users. The feature drops were supposed to represent a much faster cadence of updates than the annual updates, and provide a bit more structure than Google's A/B rollout of updates to apps and services. Users would know exactly what to expect and precisely when to expect it. The first such update came out in December, and the second was rumored to be arriving in March.

Well, it's March now, and like Spring, the first Pixel feature drop for 2020 is here.

Here's what's included in this update:

  • Quick access to Cards & Passes - With the March feature drop, you'll be able to quickly access your Google Pay cards, event tickets, and passes by holding down the power button.
  • New Motion Sense gestures - You'll now be able to pause and play music on the Pixel 4 with an air tap in addition to the pre-existing air swipes to switch through songs.
  • Car Crash Detection - The Pixel will now call emergency services if it detects you'd been in a car crash automatically. It was previously a U.S. exclusive feature, but Google is now bringing it to the UK and Australia with this release.
  • New AR Effects for Duo - Duo is getting new AR effects for video calls that react to your facial expressions.
  • Improved selfies: For Pixel 4, Google will now let the front-facing camera capture depth data. There'll be improved Portrait blur and color pop, and you'll also be able to create 3D images to post on Facebook.
  • New emoji: Google is updating the Pixel line with the emoji 12.1 update, adding 169 emoji aimed at being skin tone and gender-inclusive.
  • Dark theme scheduling: You'll now be able to schedule your dark mode depending on local sunrise and sunset periods.

One of the biggest draws to the Pixel line are the fast, meaningful updates Google provides. These updates are certainly meaningful, and Google increasing its frequency to four times a year rather than once a year means the speed of updates becomes more enticing.

The March Pixel feature drop is rolling out now for Pixel 2, 3, 3a, and 4 users.

Michael Allison