Google's Latest Pixel Feature Drop Delivers Better Battery Management and Baby Yoda

Illustration for article titled Googles Latest Pixel Feature Drop Delivers Better Battery Management and Baby Yoda
Image: Google

Last week Google announced a bunch of new features coming to Android devices as a whole, and now the company has returned to provide some new software for its own phones specifically with the latest Pixel feature drop.

As with previous Pixel feature drops, these updates add new features and capabilities to Google’s line of Pixel phones, for both new phones like the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G as well as older models.

Gif: Google

One of the big focuses of the latest Pixel feature drop is ambient computing: The idea is that your devices automatically react and adjust to your needs instead of you having to do it manually. With a new Adaptive Sound feature, Google is borrowing tech from the Nest Audio in bring it over to Pixel phones, allowing your phone to detect ambient noise and then dynamically adjusting the phone’s speaker to increase clarity and overall audio quality.

Additionally, for those concerned about battery life, Google is adding a few new abilities to the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G’s Adaptive Battery feature, allowing Google’s latest 5G phones to automatically switch between 4G and 5G connections depending on what you’re doing. For example, if you’re just browsing the web or texting, the new Pixels will use standard 4G to help increase longevity, but if you’re doing something where download speeds matter like streaming video or downloading a large file, the new Pixels will automatically switch to 5G. (Apple’s iPhones have a similar feature.)

Google says the new Pixel feature drop will even improve the accuracy of GPS on the Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G, and thanks to the new App Overview feature in Google Lens, your Pixel will be able to more easily detect and translate a website or app into your native language.

Baby Yoda says “Hello.”
Baby Yoda says “Hello.”
Image: Google

Aside from updates to apps and features, the other big new component in this Pixel feature drop is an upgrade to the look and customizability of your Pixel home screen. After the update, Google says Pixel users will be able to personalize their phone with new app icons, grid views and even app shapes, so if you don’t like the circular icons Google has favored recently, you can switch to something else, like the classic squircle.


There will also be a new range of wallpapers featuring famous art from major museums and institutions around the world. But for Star Wars fans, thanks to a collab between Google and Lucasfilm on a new augmented reality app based on the Mandalorian, Pixel phones dating back to the Pixel 3 are also getting new Mandalorian-themed wallpapers too.

The Pixel’s Now Playing feature, which automatically detects and identifies music being played nearby, is also getting an upgrade. The new Now Playing History feature will save a record of all those songs in one easy-to-find place, which can even be exported to a playlist in YouTube Music.


Finally, as a nice update for older Pixels, Google is porting a bunch of the new features that debuted on the Pixel 5 to older Pixels dating back to the Pixel 3, including the AI-powered Hold for Me feature (which uses the Google Assistant to wait on line if a business puts you on hold so you don’t have to), the Extreme Battery Saver feature, screen-sharing during video calls in Duo, and the redesigned photo editor in Google Photos.

While Google hasn’t provided a specific timetable for when the December 2020 Pixel feature drop will be available on your device, the update will being rolling out to day before becoming widely available in the coming weeks. 


Senior reporter at Gizmodo, formerly Tom's Guide and Laptop Mag. Was an archery instructor and a penguin trainer before that.

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I don’t get why my 3a still gets GPS wrong, my last one the N5X the GPS was basically always backwards it only corrected when driving, the same thing is happening now on the 3a, infuriating

and being a light smartphone user, especially when at home I wish I could chose to charge only up to 80% or offer a power pass-through so I can keep it docked without over cycling the battery