Google Rolls Out Pixel Feature Drop Alongside March Security Update for Supported Devices: Details

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Google has started rolling its latest March Security update and it also brings along a host of new feature add-ons for various supported Pixel devices thanks to the new Feature Drop. The security patch is around 742MB in size (on our Pixel 8 review unit) and is eligible for a number of Pixel devices, from the latest Pixel 8 Pro to the Pixel Tablet and the Pixel 5a 5G, which is currently the oldest device to be supported after the Pixel 4a received its last official security update in November last year.

Google Pixel March Security Update

Tagged as software version AP1A.240305.019.A1, the March security update is available for a number of Pixel smartphones, the Pixel Tablet and the only Google foldable in existence, the Pixel Fold. As usual, the security update brings along several bug fixes and improvements.

These include general stability and performance improvements “with certain apps” and a fix for Google Assistant when it refuses to respond on all recent Pixel smartphones in “certain conditions”. Fingerprint recognition on Pixel 6 through Pixel 8 Pro is also said to be improved in response.

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The Google March security update is 742MB in size

 

There’s also a camera fix for all recent Pixel smartphones where the camera would stop functioning entirely. It isn’t clear if this is to do with the Night mode bug we noticed in our Pixel 7 Pro and Pixel 8 Pro reviews. The update is also said to bring general improvements for system stability and performance, which should hopefully bring an end to stuttery/janky scrolling issues faced by several users.

Other fixes included are for the sensors (refuses to vibrate when new texts come in), telephony (fails to route calls to connected Bluetooth devices) and even an issue where users could hear distortion in audio when placing calls. There are even a number of fixes to the user interface, from causing the game dashboard to stop functioning to home screen icons disappearing, to stuck live wallpapers, to the taskbar icons and buttons not responding in certain conditions.

Google Pixel March Feature Drop

As for the Google Feature Drop, it will automatically direct updates to various devices you own or your smartphones are connected to. The Pixel Feature Drop is limited to devices that run Android 14, and the rollout, as usual, will be phased. Those who have received the March Security Update will also have to update their individual apps for some of the new features to appear.

Supported Pixel smartphones will get improvements to the Call Screen feature, which is only available in certain regions. The new update makes the call screening feature better when the caller happens to be silent on the other end. The update adds a “hello” chip to the interface, which, when activated, will now prompt the caller to speak.

While recently launched Pixel models are already capable of shooting high contrast 10-bit HDR videos, users can now share these HDR videos and photos directly on Instagram Reels. Strangely, Samsung smartphones received the feature prior to Google’s Pixel’s devices.

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Google Pixel Watch received a new workouts user interface with the latest Pixel Feature Drop
Photo Credit: Google

 

Another feature which was made available on Pixel 8, Pixel 8 Pro and the Samsung Galaxy S24 series simultaneously was Circle to Search. And Google has announced that it is finally making its way to the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro as well. However, Google has explicitly mentioned that the Pixel 7 models will not get them immediately. Marked as “coming soon”, it is a bit of a waiting game for Pixel 7 owners for now.

Moving to the Pixel Watch, Google has finally added updates from its Pixel Watch 2 to the older, first-generation Pixel Watch. This includes features like Pace Training (set a goal pace during exercise) and Heart Zone Training (monitor time spent in each zone). There’s also auto-pause, auto-start and auto-stop, reducing the need to manually start and stop a workout. However, auto workout detection only works for running, walking, elliptical, spinning, outdoor biking, treadmill, and rowing exercises. Lastly, Google updated the workout interface to include larger text and brighter colours for better visibility and readability. Those with access to the Fitbit app will also now see new breathing exercises available on the first-gen Pixel Watch.

The Pixel Watch also gets public transit directions on the display itself. Different transit options will be available, including real-time departures and a compass-enabled map view.

For Pixel devices in general, Google has also introduced the ability to share precisely what’s on your screen instead of everything that’s visible on your screen when screen sharing. Users can share just one app instead of showing the entire screen, whether a phone, tablet or a foldable Pixel device.

Google Docs now allows for handwritten markups, which can be scribbled using a dedicated stylus or even a finger. The markup feature in Google Docs also includes a set of tools providing a variety of pen colours and highlighters to choose from.

Lastly, Google’s Pixel Tablet finally gets a more sensible Gboard voice toolbar. The toolbar takes over when voice input is activated and removes the keyboard from view, letting you view content and dictate text into the text field using a thin pill-shaped bar at the bottom.


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