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Pixel Feature drop is here for December 2023 with camera upgrades, Repair Mode, more

Google is also rolling out some exciting new features specifically for the Pixel 8 Pro.
By
December 6, 2023
TL;DR
  • The newest Pixel Feature Drop is rolling out now.
  • There are numerous camera upgrades, a new Repair Mode, updates to calling features, and more.
  • The Pixel 8 Pro gets most of the focus, with exclusive upgrades such as Video Boost.

Once a quarter, Google launches a slew of new features exclusively for Pixel smartphones. These are known as Pixel Feature Drops. Today, the final drop for 2023 is rolling out to active Pixel smartphones, with the newest Pixel 8 Pro getting some extra special love. Here are the new tweaks you can expect on your Pixel soon.

Keep in mind that at least some of these features will eventually make their way to the wider world of Android. So, even if you aren’t a Pixel user, you might see some of these in the future.

Let’s start with the star of the show: the Pixel 8 Pro.

Pixel 8 Pro exclusive new updates

Google Pixel 8 Pro back
Adamya Sharma / Android Authority

The Pixel 8 Pro is Google’s top-of-the-line flagship at the moment. As such, it is getting a bit more attention than other Pixels — even the Pixel 8, which is incredibly similar in hardware and features. Here’s what to expect for the Pixel 8 Pro:

  • Video Boost: This feature offers the power of computational videography improvements, similar to the computational photography smarts you already use on Pixels. Video Boost requires a lot of computing power, though, so it can’t be done on-device. Instead, you shoot a video with your Pixel 8 Pro, upload it to Google, Google processes it, and then you download the updated version. While Video Boost makes expected alterations to your clip — HDR+, color, lighting, etc. — it also brings Night Sight Video for those clips you recorded in low-light situations. This whole system is free (for now, anyway), and you can use Video Boost on as many clips as you want (as long as they were captured using the Pixel 8 Pro).
  • Gemini Nano: Gemini is Google’s newest and most powerful generative AI system. Google Bard was just a starting point, with Gemini being the full ChatGPT competitor Google needs to stay on top. Gemini Nano is part of the Android AICore and brings some of the power of Gemini to the Pixel 8 Pro. Nano will power various Pixel features, such as the Summarize feature in the Recorder app and Gboard’s Smart Reply. Since this is all happening on-device, you won’t need a data connection for the systems to work. Google is also rolling out the main non-Nano version of Gemini today, which we have a separate post on.

Pixel Feature Drop December 2023: For most other Pixels

pixel 6a vs 7 vs 7 pro 2
Rita El Khoury / Android Authority

The Pixel 8 Pro might be getting some of the coolest new features, but that doesn’t mean the regular Pixel 8 and older Pixel phones aren’t getting any love. Here are the other aspects of the latest Pixel Feature Drop. We’ve signified the device support limitations of some of these. If there are no limitations, that means the feature is coming to all active Pixels (Pixel 5a and newer).

  • Night Sight Timelapse (Pixel 8 series only): You can now record timelapse videos in low-light situations and see much better quality than you would with just the regular Timelapse mode.
  • Dual Screen Preview (Pixel Fold only)We previously uncovered this feature in a leak. Essentially, this feature allows you, the photographer, to frame up a shot on the large inner screen of the Pixel Fold while your subjects can see what’s happening on the outer, smaller screen at the same time. Now, everyone can work together to get the best shot.
  • Webcam mode (Pixel 6 and newer): In response to a similar iPhone feature, you can now hook your Pixel phone up to your computer with a USB cable and turn your phone into a high-quality webcam. Now, the quality of your laptop’s camera doesn’t matter because your phone’s camera will probably surpass it in every way.
  • More powerful Call Screen (Pixel 6 and newer)With Call Screen, you’ll now get suggestions for contextual replies. This allows you to take some control away from Google Assistant while still not needing to actually answer the call.
  • Clear Calling on tablet (Pixel Tablet only)When taking calls on your Pixel Tablet, you’ll now have a much better experience with the power of Clear Calling. This reduces the background noise and enhances speech sounds using AI to achieve the best possible call quality.
  • Spatial audio on tablet (Pixel Tablet only): When watching a movie or TV show on your Pixel Tablet, you’ll now get an enhanced audio experience with spatial audio support.
  • Repair Mode: When you send in your phone for repair, you won’t need to worry about your personal data. Just put your phone in Repair Mode before handing it over to a repair technician. They’ll be able to use Android to check if the repair is complete but not have access to your data. When you get the phone back, exit Repair Mode and go about your day.
  • Clean for receipts: When scanning a document, such as a receipt, you can now remove things like smudges and stains using the power of AI in a new feature called Clean. This is available in the Camera app. Try it out next time you’re scanning a document!
  • Better passkey support: Google Password Manager can identify the accounts that support passkeys, taking the guesswork off your hands. You’ll be able to add these to Password Manager with just a few taps.
  • Weather in the Clock app: Instead of jumping between the Clock app and a weather app to see what time it is and what the weather is like in a far-off location, you can see them all at the same time. In the World Clock tab of the Clock app, any locations you add there will now have live weather updates along with the local time. This also works in widgets!
  • Improved Portrait Light: Within the Google Photos app, you can use Portrait Light to alter lighting situations in photos you’ve already captured. This now uses a new AI model and supports a new Balance mode.
  • Photo Unblur for animals: Photo Unblur gets some new upgrades that allow for better sharpening of your pets’ faces.
  • Region expansions: The recorder app now supports 28 extra languages. Additionally, Direct My Call and Hold for Me work with business numbers and are both available in the UK.

New Pixel Watch features

A user takes a Google Pixel Watch 2 screenshot by pressing the back button and Digital Crown simultaneously.
Kaitlyn Cimino / Android Authority

The Pixel Watch and Pixel Watch 2 are also getting some new tweaks:

  • Call Screen: The power of Call Screen is now on the Pixel Watch, allowing you to monitor Google Assistant’s conversation with whoever is trying to call you.
  • Unlock your phone: Your Pixel Watch can now unlock your Pixel smartphone. Just make sure your watch and phone are near one another, and poof: your phone will securely unlock. This will be perfect for when your face is obscured, you have gloves on, or both.
  • DnD sync (Pixel Watch only)Like the Pixel Watch 2 can do, now the Pixel Watch can sync your Do Not Disturb and Bedtime Modes from your watch to your phone or vice versa.
  • Faces and complications (Pixel Watch only)The new watch face designs launched with the Pixel Watch 2 now work on the original Pixel Watch. Updated complication styles are also coming to the OG watch, making the two watches more similar than ever.