Published On: Tue, Mar 5th, 2024

You’re getting a huge free Android update from Google if your phone is on this list

Google makes some of the best Android phones available (as well it should, it owns Android) as part of its Google Pixel line up of devices, with excellent software and top drawer cameras. One of the perks of Pixel is they often get better over time thanks to regular software updates that Google likes to call Feature Drops.

The latest Feature Drop has just been announced, and is rolling out now to anyone with a Pixel 8, Pixel 8 Pro, Pixel 7, Pixel 7 Pro, Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro, Pixel 5a, or Pixel Fold. The free software update happens a few times per year and usually loads Pixel phones with cool new features before anyone else – but sometimes they remain exclusive to Pixel.

If you love posting videos to social media then you’ll want to go download this Feature Drop immediately, as you will be able to record and upload 10-bit HDR videos directly on Instagram Reels. This works on the Pixel 7, 8, and Fold phones that could already record this high-quality video, but only in the camera app. Now, the same maximum quality will be applied to your shoots even if you are taking the video using Instagram Reels.

Shooting at the best possible quality from social media apps is usually a privilege reserved for the iPhone, so it’s great to see that hit the latest Pixel phones.

Another great tool that debuted on the Samsung Galaxy S24 series is also now coming to Pixel. ‘Circle to search’ lets you hold down the home button or swipe bar to scan whatever is on your screen – webpage, photo, camera viewfinder – to then let you circle an object or text with your finger. This then brings up Google search results and lets you quickly learn more about what you’re looking at.

It works really well and can often be easier than typing a long phrase into Google and getting odd or incorrect results. It works well for landmarks and items you want to buy.

One very handy upgrade is only coming to English language Pixel users in the US. We love the Pixel’s Call Screen feature, which you can use if you don’t want to pick up the phone if you don’t know the caller or think it might be spam. The phone answers it for you, and then you can use Google Assistant to screen the call, often wheedling out pesky robocalls or fraudsters.

US Pixel people with Pixel 6, 7, 8, or Fold can now tap to say ‘hello’ even if the caller is silent, as such callers often are. This will then prompt the person to speak, so you can see what they want and whether you want to pick up. Call Screen remains exclusive to Pixel phones, so hopefully we see this latest update hit UK Google phones soon.

Google has also updated the first-generation Google Pixel Watch with some handy features that were previously only for the newer Pixel Watch 2. The older smartwatch can now use Pace Training to set a pace goal while running, measure heart rate zones for more detailed training data, and perhaps most usefully can now automatically detect workouts, as well as stop them.

The software update also adds in the Fitbit Relax app, and adds public transport directions for the wrist-based version of Google Maps.

If you own the Pixel Tablet you’ll also see some handy new upgrades. The March Feature Drop is available now in most regions, and is coming to the US on 11 March.

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