Google's Pixel phones are the best place to experience the latest Android features thanks to the quarterly Pixel Feature Drops, which occasionally include updates for the Pixel Watch (future Feature Drops will likely cover the Google Pixel Tablet).
Since its inception, we've rounded up every Feature Drop into this comprehensive list. Note that while these updates are focused on Pixel devices, they occasionally reach other Android devices. Brush up on all the best Android 13 features to see what's available on any Android phone.
What is Pixel Feature Drop?
Each Pixel Feature Drop is a collection of new tools and features for Pixel phones. There isn't a specific focus here. They include everything from wallpaper changes to updates for Pixel-exclusive apps (for example, Recorder). However, older Pixel phones are often left behind for some features. You need the latest Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro to access them. Owners of anything older than the Pixel 4a don't receive Feature Drops (this group of unsupported devices includes the Pixel 4).
Pixel Feature Drops aren't Android releases; your version number won't change. Any features that make their way from Feature Drops to Android are included in the yearly Android updates.
You can grab the latest Feature Drop for your Pixel phone like any other software update. Go to Settings > System > System update and tap Check for update.
June 2023 Feature Drop
June Feature Drops are always awkward, as they arrive when we're gearing up for the next Android release. This Feature Drop landed after the Android 14 Beta 3 release and includes a feature we'll see in the final release of Android 14.
Unlike the previous Feature Drop, June's release is a more comprehensive update for Pixel phones offering changes to security, wallpapers, photography, and more.
Improved safety features
This Feature Drop includes two new safety features. Car crash detection is a vital part of the Pixel Personal Safety app, and it's been updated to share your real-time location and call status with emergency contacts.
Additionally, you can now ask Google Assistant to start a safety check. Once activated, your Pixel phone contacts your emergency contacts and shares your location if you don't respond in time.
Improved hands-free photography and macro video
On Pixel 6 and newer devices, you can activate a camera timer by holding your palm up to the camera instead of tapping the screen.
The Pixel 7 Pro has a phenomenal macro camera. Now, you can use it for video as well as photography.
Expanded functionality for the Recorder app
There's a lot to love about the Recorder app, and June's Feature Drop adds functionality in a few areas. You can now search a transcript for speakers and export it to Google Docs. Additionally, videos you create with the Recorder app can have automatic transcriptions and visible speaker labels.
Transform static 2D images into 3D cinematic wallpapers
It wouldn't be a Feature Drop without new wallpapers, but June's Feature Drop is the first one that changes how wallpapers work. Turning a photo into a 3D cinematic wallpaper technically works for any image, but you'll get the best results with photos with existing depth (such as portraits).
You can also create animated emoji wallpapers by mixing and matching emojis, colors, and patterns.
New Google Home control panel
Tapping the Google Home shortcut via the lock screen or quick settings will open a redesigned panel akin to the dedicated Google Home app. You can adjust your smart home devices, check cameras, change volume, and more.
More health monitoring features for the Pixel Watch
The launch of the Pixel Watch in 2022 was slightly underwhelming, partly due to its limited range of features. Feature Drops are slowly improving the watch's functionality. Now, it alerts you of abnormal heart rates and tracks your oxygen saturation (SpO2) level.
Additionally, your Pixel Watch supports more Google Assistant languages and automatically pauses your exercise if you take a break.
Other features added in the June 2023 Feature Drop
- AI-powered adaptive charging brings your phone to 100% an hour before it expects to be unplugged.
- Two new Google Assistant voices
- Reduced haptic intensity when the phone is placed on a hard surface
Read our full breakdown of the June 2023 Feature Drop for an in-depth look at this update.
March 2023 Feature Drop
It's unusual for a Feature Drop, but this one arrived a week later than expected (usually, they arrive on the first Monday of the month.) It's much smaller than December 2022's release, but there are still some nifty tricks here for Pixel owners.
Faster Night Sight photography on Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro
Thanks to new and improved algorithms, the faster Night Sight photos that debuted with the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro are now available on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. The feature works the same, just a little bit faster.
Magic Eraser available on all Pixel phones
Magic Eraser is now available for all Pixel phones, and it's also available for all Google One subscribers. This means that other Android users and even iPhone users can access this handy tool. However, Pixel users are the only ones who get it for free.
Improved Direct My Call for all Pixel phones
Direct My Call has long been available on all Pixels from the Pixel 2 onwards, but the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro received an improved version. This improved version lists menu options before they're spoken for select toll-free numbers in the U.S., improving this already great part of the Pixel Call Assist suite of features. The March Feature Drop finally brings this improved version to the Pixel 4a and newer.
See timers from smart speakers
Your Pixel Phone's At a Glance widget now shows timers from your Google Assistant-compatible smart speakers (barring the Google Home Max). A push notification lets you cancel or add a minute when a timer is up. This feature was first discovered last year but is likely only now rolling out widely.
Fall detection for Pixel Watch
A long-awaited feature for the Google Pixel Watch, the smartwatch tries to detect if you fall. If it detects a fall and you don't tap "I'm OK" on your watch, it attempts to call emergency services for help. If you want this peace of mind, learn how to set up Fall Detection and Emergency SOS.
Other features added in the March 2023 Feature Drop
- Health Connect is now a preinstalled app to sync data across apps.
- Digital car key support via UWB on the Pixel 7 Pro and Pixel 6 Pro (only available on select 2022+ BMW models).
- Fast Pair for Chromebooks.
- New Emoji Kitchen combinations.
- Use two eSIMs simultaneously on Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro (only for select carriers and networks).
Read our full breakdown of the March 2023 Feature Drop for information regarding upcoming features.
December 2022 Feature Drop
This is the biggest update yet, including the first Feature Drop that includes a wearable, the ambitious Google Pixel Watch.
Free VPN for Google Pixel 7 and Google Pixel 7 Pro users
Google's VPN lacks many features that the best VPN apps have. However, with today's Feature Drop, it's free to use for all Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro users. But you'll want to look elsewhere for a VPN that lets you manually change location.
Clear Calling is an exclusive Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro feature that enhances the other caller's voice by reducing background sounds. It's powered by the Tensor G2 chip, which is only available on these phones. It's part of the Pixel Call Assist suite of features designed to improve your calling experience in various situations.
Security & privacy settings hub
App Security, Find My Decide, Security Updates, Device Lock, and more have been unified under the new security settings hub. Each section is divided into cards that notify you of issues and risks.
Speaker labels for Recorder
Recorder is the best recording app for Pixel phones with its accurate live transcriptions. It's useful for meetings, interviews, and conferences, but now it's almost essential. It identifies who is speaking and inserts labels and line breaks when the speaker changes.
It wouldn't be a Pixel Feature Drop without new wallpapers. This update brings two sets. Three Curated Culture wallpapers celebrate the International Day of People with Disabilities, and a Live Bloom wallpaper collection adds animated flowers to your phone screen.
New tiles for Pixel Watch
Two new tiles have been added to the Pixel Watch. The Sunrise/Sunset Tile displays the time when the sun rises or sets alongside a countdown timer to the event. The Contacts Tile lets you pin up to five contacts to a tile, so you can call or text them with a couple of taps.
Fitbit Sleep Profile for Pixel Watch
This feature, already available for Fitbit Premium users, is now on Pixel Watch. Wear your watch for at least 14 days a month, and it provides you with info about how you sleep and what your sleeping style means.
This feature doesn't arrive until January but will be available for Pixel Buds Pro and wired headphone users. It will be available on the Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro, Pixel 7, and Pixel 7 Pro.
June 2022 Feature Drop
Make your own music
Each Pixel Feature Drop usually includes helpful but not exciting tools. The June 2022 Feature Drop changed this by bringing Pocket Operator. This app is exclusively for Pixels and uses machine learning to create a music video. It's silly, but it's a neat way of showing Google's tech in a fun way.
Vaccine cards on the lock screen
Google knows how frustrating it can be to search through your phone for your vaccine card, especially if you're in a hurry. Now you can attach a shortcut to your vaccine card on your homescreen. This feature is only available to Pixel users in Australia, Canada, and the U.S.
New At a Glance features
Google brought three new features to At a Glance; these are:
- Nest Doorbell video feed: You can view your Nest feed, and At a Glance tells you if someone rings your Nest Doorbell.
- Flashlight reminder: At a Glance includes a reminder that your flashlight is on, along with a nifty shortcut to turn it off.
- Air quality alerts: At a Glance alerts you if the air quality in your area goes below safe levels. This feature is only available in the U.S., Australia, and India.
Pride Month wallpapers
To celebrate Pride Month, illustrator Yann Bastard created three new Pixel wallpapers for Google.
Available through the Sound Amplifier app, Conversation mode is designed for those with hearing loss. Point your camera at someone (or let them hold it), and your Pixel filters out the background noise while amplifying their voice.
There's also a new noise reduction feature on Google Meet, which filters out background noise.
March 2022 Feature Drop
Night Sight in Snapchat
The March 2022 Feature Drop brought Night Sight support in Snapchat on the Pixel 6 series. This means the party snaps you share on Snapchat are of higher quality, without using a flash. The feature is only coming to the Pixel 6 series.
Live Caption for calls
Live Caption on the Pixel 6 received a significant upgrade with the March 2022 update. The feature is primarily intended to transcribe subtitles from audio in almost real time. This update makes it work the other way around. You can type text on calls, and then Live Caption reads it to the caller. This improvement to Live Caption is currently only available on the Pixel 6 series.
Live Caption can transcribe Spanish into English, French, Italian, German, or Japanese.
Live Translate and Recorder app improvements
The interpreter mode in Live Translate on the Pixel 6 series gained French and Spanish language support. In the future, your phone will be able to translate conversations in these languages in real time.
The Recorder app was also improved as part of the March 2022 Feature Drop with transcription support for Italian and Spanish languages.
Assistant Quick phrases gains support for new languages
Assistant Quick phrases on the Pixel 6 series now supports Spanish, Italian, and French languages with the March 2022 Feature Drop. Previously, it only worked in English, Japanese, and German languages. The feature allows you to stop a timer, snooze an alarm, or answer/decline calls without saying the "Hey Google" hotword.
At a Glance widget improvements
The At a Glance widget received some notable improvements with the March Feature Drop. It now shows the battery level of connected Bluetooth earbuds and accessories, earthquake alerts, a safety countdown from the Personal Safety app, and reminders to turn off the alarm.
A new Pixel battery widget shows the battery level of connected Bluetooth accessories. These enhancements are available on all compatible Pixel phones.
Direct My Call and Wait Times
The March 2022 Feature Drop brought Direct My Call and Wait Times to all supported Google Pixel phones, from the Pixel 3a through the Pixel 5 series. The features first debuted with the Pixel 6 series in October 2021.
Custom text stickers
Gboard can now create custom text stickers on the fly based on what you write. The feature rolled out globally but only supports U.S. English. So, for example, if you type "Happy Birthday Jen" and add an emoji, Gboard automatically creates a custom sticker with the text.
To celebrate International Women's Day, this Feature Drop included three new wallpapers. You can access them from the Curated Culture section of the Wallpaper & style menu.
December 2021 Feature Drop
Quick Tap to Snap
With the Pixel 6 series, Google debuted a Quick Tap to Snap gesture allowing users to double-tap the back of the phone to open Snapchat's camera. The December 2021 Feature Drop expanded this functionality to the Pixel 4a 5G and newer devices.
Digital car key
The December 2021 Feature Drop enabled digital car key support on the Pixel 6 series, making it possible to unlock select 2020 to 2022 BMW vehicles by tapping the phone on the door handle. Plus, you can start the car by placing your Pixel phone on the key reader and pressing the Start/Stop button.
The UWB chip inside the Pixel 6 Pro was enabled with the December 2021 update to improve the Nearby Share experience.
Car cash detection comes to more countries
This release expanded car crash detection to Taiwan, Italy, and France on compatible Pixel phones.
New wallpapers for International Day of Persons with Disabilities
To celebrate the International Day of Persons with Disabilities, the December 2021 Feature Drop included a new collection of wallpapers. You'll find them in the Curated section of the Wallpapers app on your Pixel.
Bass boost control for Pixel Buds A-Series
The last Feature Drop of 2021 introduced a handy bass boost control option for the Pixel Buds-A series. There's a -1 to +4 slider, so you can adjust the bass range as you like. To customize the bass level on your Pixel Buds, follow the steps below:
- Open the Settings menu.
- Scroll down and select Connected devices.
- Tap Pixel Bud's settings.
- Tap Sound.
- Adjust the bass level by moving the slider around as required.
The feature is also available on all Android 6.0+ devices using the companion app.
Conversation mode in Sound Amplifier
The Sound Amplifier app gained a new Conversation mode accessibility feature to make communication easier between people who are hard of hearing. It uses on-device machine learning to block surrounding noise and focus on the person's voice that the phone's camera is pointing at.
Now Playing enhancements
The December 2021 Feature Drop made it possible to activate Now Playing and search for a song manually. Additionally, you can save identified songs on Pixel 4 and newer devices to your favorites list from the lock screen.
Adjust Google Assistant's power button activation time
A small but significant change introduced in the Feature Drop was the ability to tweak the Google Assistant power button activation time as you need.
Feature Drops are exclusive to Pixel devices
Feature Drops do a great job of regularly adding important usability enhancements and new features to Pixel phones. You end up with a better phone than what you initially purchased. They also help set Pixel devices apart from other Android phones since these feature releases are exclusive to them. If it's time for an upgrade, check out our Google Pixel 7 Pro review.