Google is renowned for consistently and promptly issuing new updates to its Pixel series of smartphones. Not only are the devices always first in line to receive new Android versions brimming with new features, they’re also typically premier to get new Android security updates, too. Towards the beginning of every month, the mountain View firm usually releases a new Android patch for its Pixel devices that protects it against newly discovered vulnerabilities. Although these updates are essential, they certainly don’t generate palpable excitement amongst fans.
It seems Google is looking to change that though by delivering what it’s calling “Pixel feature drops” that, as the name suggests, are set to introduce new features to keep its Android handset feeling fresh.
The first ever Pixel feature drop has started arriving for Pixel 4 owners and brings three new additions worth getting excited about. Here’s an overview of each…
Pixel 4 owners can now blur the background of every photo in their Google Photos library. That’s truly an impressive feat. To take advantage of the new feature, all you need to do is head to an old photo, or one you just took where you forgot to activate portrait mode, and you’ll see a pop-up aptly titled “blur background”. Tapping this will kick Google’s advanced image processing technologies into high gear.
It’s worth emphasising you really can use the new feature for every image in your Google Photos library. Express.co.uk was able to blur the background of photos we took with our iPhone 3G back in 2008 for instance.
Discussing the new feature, Google said: “Now, you can turn a photo into a portrait on Pixel by blurring the background post-snap. So whether you took the photo years ago, or you forgot to turn on portrait mode, you can easily give each picture an artistic look with Portrait Blur in Google Photos.”
Better video calls
Google has made a number of improvements to its Duo video calling app with the first Pixel feature drop. Now the programme will intelligently make sure your face sticks to the middle of the frame, even if you’re moving around.
Plus, if a second person comes to join you for a video call, the camera will automatically adjust to ensure both subjects are visible at once.
Playback on Duo calls should also be smoother now thanks to a new machine learning model that will predict the next likely sound if you’ve got a spotty internet connection.
Finally, users are also now able to blur the background when making a video call, meaning the person calling you will be less distracted by what’s going on behind you.
Fewer unwanted calls
Although this feature is currently limited to the US, it’s still noteworthy. Google is souping-up its Call Screen feature for the Pixel 4 that should allow it to more intelligently discern robocalls and filter them out so your phone never has to ring.
Additionally, if the device senses it’s not a robocall, it’ll now provide more data as to who is calling and why.