December 9, 2019

One of the biggest perks of owning a Google Pixel smartphone of any generation is how quickly it gets updates. Today, Google is introducing a new monthly “Feature Drop” for Pixel smartphones and in its first release, automatic Call Screen, better memory management, Portrait Blur, and more are on the table.

In a blog post, Google details what’s coming in the first “Feature Drop” for Pixels. This new “Feature Drop” is essentially an official announcement for many of the new features we often find Google working on or slowly rolling out. Google says that we can expect these “Feature Drops” on a “regular basis” alongside the usual monthly updates.

Let’s dig in to what’s coming soon or already rolling out to Pixels.

Automatic Call Screen

As has been spotted recently, Google is now rolling out an option for automatic Call Screen for robocalls/spam calls. Starting on Pixel 4 in the US, Assistant can recognize spam calls that are detected and silenced before they ever interrupt your day at which point Google will screen the call if it turns out to be something worth your time. Google says that after the call has been detected as important, it will also offer “helpful context about who is calling and why.”

google automatic call screen pixel

Google Duo gets auto-framing on Pixel 4

The video-calling app Google Duo is also getting a Pixel 4-exclusive feature. Rolling out now, Duo can automatically frame your face in the center of the frame using the Pixel’s wide-angle selfie camera. If another person enters the frame, Pixel will expand the shot as much as possible to leave room for them as you can see below. It works a lot like Duo on the Nest Hub Max.

Google says that Duo is also adding a few other tricks on Pixel 4. This includes background blurring which has already started rolling out to some users, but also a new way to cut down on any issues with your connection. Using machine learning, Google Duo will be able to fill in the sounds that go missing due to spotty audio quality.

Better memory management for all Pixels

Google’s not being very specific with this one, but apparently this “Feature Drop” is also delivering better memory management for all. This is presumably a part of the December security patch which recently rolled out to all Pixel devices and hits Pixel 4 this week.

…all Pixel devices will also receive an update to its memory management in the feature drop. With this new enhancement, your phone proactively compresses cached applications so that users can run multiple applications at the same time — like games, streaming content and more.

Google Photos can blur your portraits after you’ve taken them

The camera is a big highlight of any Pixel and now Google is adding a special feature. Using its software magic, Google Photos will be able to blur the background of your shot using “Portrait Blur” even if you shot it normally. This means that if you forgot to use Portrait Mode while taking the shot or just want to add that blur to an older image, Pixel users can adjust the feature as they see fit using Google Photos.

‘New Google Assistant’ is about to expand

Google says that the new Google Assistant is set to expand to UK, Canada, Ireland, Singapore, and Australia “soon.” Of course, the feature will still be limited to the English language, but it’s good to see we’ll soon have this awesome feature in other countries.

All of these features are either rolling out “soon” or already heading to Pixel users. Presumably, some of them will eventually arrive on other Android handsets as well.

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