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Google Pixel phones will get even better with new ‘feature drop’ scheme

Google has pledged its Pixel 4 and older phones in the range are going to improve, the longer you own them, and is planning a host of new ‘feature drops’ – the first of which lands this month.

Google says the updates will be more significant than your average bug fixes and improvements. The first new update, rolling out in December, brings advanced call screening to halt the merciless advance of the robocalls, more photo options, and some impressive improvements to video calls on Duo.

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As pertains to robocalls, Google says the Assistant is taking up the mantle of automatically screening unknown callers and filtering out those robocalls before the phone even rings on Pixel 4 (in the US initially.)

In a blog post on Monday, the company added: “When it’s not a robocall, your phone rings a few moments later with helpful context about who is calling and why. Call Screen works on your device and does not use Wi-Fi or data, which makes the screening fast and the content private to you.”

Meanwhile, Google is also adding the ability to create portrait photos in post production by blurring the background after the image has been taken. The firm says this will enable users to go back into Google Photos and turn on the blur even if they captured the image years ago.

Perhaps the coolest feature though comes with improved video calling on Pixel 4, not least because of the new auto-framing framing feature that uses the wide-angle selfie camera to keep you in the centre of the frame even if you move.

Cooler still, if someone else joins the shot, the frame will automatically adjust to bring them into the picture. While most of these features are for Pixel 4 handsets, Google is introducing the ability to gently blur the background, pointing out this will ensure your messy bedroom drifts out of focus.

Elsewhere, this ‘feature drop’ also brings the recorder app to older pixels, brings Live Caption to Pixel 3 and 3a, while Flip to Shhh comes to the Pixel 2 and 2XL range.

The feature drop update also improves memory management, which “proactively compresses cached applications so that users can run multiple applications at the same time — like games, streaming content and more.”

Google says the features will come from via individual app updates for each of the aforementioned apps in the Google Play store.

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