Google is working on making your Pixel more helpful with its new feature drops

The aim is to improve old and new Pixels to give you a more efficient experience.
| Updated on Dec 10 2019, 07:03 PM IST
The Google Pixel phone is displayed during the presentation of new Google hardware in San Francisco, California, U.S. October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach
The Google Pixel phone is displayed during the presentation of new Google hardware in San Francisco, California, U.S. October 4, 2016. REUTERS/Beck Diefenbach (REUTERS)

Google is now going to send bigger updates to your Pixel with their new feature drops. The whole aim is to make your phone 'better over time'. The first of the lot, that is scheduled to drop this month, includes 'a new way to capture portraits, easier Duo calls and automatic call screening'.

Google has listed all the upcoming features in a blog post written by Shenaz Zack, Group Product Manager and they are as follows:

Photo controls

You can now turn any photo into a portrait on Pixel by blurring the background. It can be a photo you took years ago or it could also be a photo where you forgot to turn on the portrait mode - you can blur the background with the Portrait Blur on Google Photos. Also, it need not be a photo you clicked from the Pixel, it just needs to be on your Google Photos.

Google has not explained how they are doing this but possibly they are using AI to create a depth map based on data from actual portrait photos. This is what Google uses to get portrait mode on the front camera without having a depth sensor on the front.

End to robocalls

The new update to the Call Screen on the Pixel 4 in the US, "the Google Assistant now helps you automatically screen unknown callers and filter out detected robocalls before your phone ever rings, so you're not interrupted by them," Google explained. This is as opposed to just alerting you about a potential spam call.

If it's not a robocall, your phone will ring a few moments later with "helpful context about who is calling and why".

This Call Screen does not use Wi-Fi or data, which makes the screening fast and the content private.

Improved video calls on Duo

Video calls, on the Pixel 4 for now, have been improved with new Duo features that will let you "focus on conversations instead of logistics". Auto-framing will help keep your face centered during Duo calls even if you are moving around. Google is going to accomplish this with the Pixel 4's wide-angle lens.

Also, if another person joins the call with you, the camera will adjust to keep both of you in the frame.

The playback on Duo calls is going to get smoother. "When a bad connection leads to spotty audio, a machine learning model on your Pixel 4 predicts the likely next sound and helps you to keep the conversation going with minimum disruptions. Pixel 4's Smooth Display also reduces choppiness on your video feed, refreshing up to 90 times a second," Google wrote. On the audio front, Google is going to be using predictive AI to make up for those small gaps in a spotty connection.

However, these features are restricted to the Pixel 4. On the Pixel 2, 3 and 4 you can apply the portrait filter on your Duo calls as well - essentially blur out your background. This will go a long way in cleaning up a messy bedroom.

Other features include…

The Recorder app is now available on older generations of Pixel like the 2, 3 and 3a.

Pixel 3 and 3a users will now get Live Caption.

Digital Wellbeing is going to get updates too. The focus mode is going to roll out to help you stay productive and minimise distractions by pausing selected apps with a tap. You will be able to set an automatic schedule, take a short break or end focus mode early without disrupting your schedule.

'Flip to Shhh' will also join the Digital Wellbeing features on the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2XL.

If you use a Pixel 4 in the UK, Canada, Ireland, Singapore and Australia, you'll get the new Google Assistant (English only) soon, which is supposed to be faster and more helpful.

On the Pixel 4, the new update will improve accuracy on Google Maps with improved on-device computing for better location quality.

In addition, all Pixel devices will also receive an update to its memory management in the feature drop. With this your phone will start proactively compressing cached applications so that you can run multiple applications at the same time.

These features are currently rolling out across Pixel devices and to get them you just need to update to the latest version of Android, go to the Play Store and update your apps.

Follow HT Tech for the latest tech news and reviews , also keep up with us on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. For our latest videos, subscribe to our YouTube channel.

First Published Date: 10 Dec, 07:01 PM IST
keep up with tech