Google releases new Pixel feature drop with Adaptive Sound, improved charging, and more features for older phones


Google has begun rolling out a new Pixel feature drop with the December 2020 security patch. It’s the first feature drop for the Pixel 5 and 4a 5G, and it comes with a few new features like Adaptive Sound and Charging. Also notable is the wider rollout of features that already exist like Hold For Me and Extreme Battery Saver.

Starting with the new stuff, Adaptive Sound is aiming to improve the speaker quality of the Pixel 5 and 4a 5G by improving things “based on your surroundings.” It uses your device’s microphones to balance acoustics and adjust the equalizer for optimal sound quality depending on your setting. I’m skeptical as to how much better the speakers sound with the feature flicked on, but I have it on my Pixel 5 so I’ll be testing it for the next couple of days.

Google says it’s also tweaked the GPS in the Pixel 5 and 4a 5G to be more accurate.

Another feature exclusive to the newer Pixels is the ability to flick between 5G and 4G LTE for different tasks. Google says things like texting and surfing the web will rely on LTE, while heavier tasks like downloading videos will opt for 5G. It’s similar to how the iPhone 12 lineup handles 5G, and like Apple’s phones can be disabled if you just want 5G all the time.

Adaptive Battery is also arriving on the Pixel for the first time, and it’s launching on phones dating back to the Pixel 4. With the feature, your phone will automatically adjust charging speeds when you charge at night so as not to age your battery as quickly. You’ll probably never notice the feature, but you might if you keep your phone for long enough to notice a difference in its endurance a couple years down the road.

This leads us into the features launching on other phones besides the Pixel 5 and 4a 5G, and they’re features we’ve seen before. Extreme Battery Saver, Hold For Me, and screen sharing in Google Duo calls are now available on the Pixel 3 and newer. It’s nice to see the features finally creep their way down the company’s phone lineup.

Here’s some other Pixel-exclusive features included in today’s update.

  • Google Photos will now offer new Dynamic suggestions to improve photos of sunsets and sunrises.
  • Google Lens can now detect if you’re looking at an app or website in a different language and have it translated via a screenshot or swipe into recent apps.
  • The Pixel Launcher now has more customization options for icon sizes, grid sizes, icon shapes, and more.
  • Now Playing can now be exported into a YouTube Music playlist.

The new software is rolling out to all supported Pixel phones.

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