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Huge Pixel feature drop today brings 'astrolapse,' Locked Folder, more
- Today, Google is rolling out its latest Pixel feature drop, a massive quarterly update for its Pixel devices.
- Included with the drop are new photography features, security and safety options, wallpapers, and more.
- The drop is going out now to all currently supported Pixel devices (everything after the Pixel 2, essentially).
If you own a Pixel phone, today’s a big day! Google is now rolling out the latest feature drop for its line of Pixel phones.
Are you new to Pixels? Essentially, a feature drop is a quarterly update to all currently supported Pixel phones. Rather than issue a few cool updates each month as it used to do, Google now saves up all its new stuff and dumps them all out every three months. Today marks the second drop of 2021.
As usual, there are a lot of new updates included with this drop aside from the usual monthly security patch. We break them all down below. If you want to install it on your Pixel 3/3 XL, Pixel 3a/3a XL, Pixel 4/4 XL, Pixel 4a/4a 5G, or Pixel 5, just head to Settings > System > Advanced > System Update > Check For Update. Or, conversely, just wait for the OTA notification, which should come at some point today.
Google’s Night Sight and ASTROphotography modes make taking nighttime photos a snap. With the latest Pixel feature drop, though, there’s a new setting known as “astrolapse.” Essentially, this feature records a short film that shows the stars moving across the night sky.
For this to work best, your phone will need to be perfectly still and in a place with low levels of light pollution. The longer you set the timelapse for, the more movement you’ll see across the sky.
Unfortunately, this feature is limited to the Pixel 4/4XL, Pixel 4a/4a 5G, and Pixel 5. Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a users are out of luck.
At Google I/O 2021, the company shared information about an upcoming Pixel feature called Locked Folder within the Google Photos app. Well, it’s rolling out today! As one may have guessed, the feature allows you to preserve photos behind a passcode so they stay private and safe.
You can move photos you’ve already shot to a locked folder. Or, you can choose to save a photo you’re about to take to your locked folder. The GIF above shows how easy it is to select where you want your photo to go before you take it.
Obviously, photos in Locked Folder won’t show up on smart displays or in your Memories.
Other Google Pixel feature drop updates
Here are the rest of the Pixel feature drop items rolling out today:
- Pride Month wallpapers: The drop includes three new wallpapers themed around Pride Month 2021 created by Ashton Attz. You can see them above.
- Car crash detection: More countries now support Pixel’s car crash detection feature, including Spain, Ireland, and Singapore. This feature checks in with you if it detects you may have been in a crash. If you don’t acknowledge the alert, your phone can automatically call for help.
- Walking alerts: If you’re walking while using your phone, you’ll now get a warning that you should look up for the sake of safety. This is called Heads Up and it’s part of the Digital Wellbeing suite.
- Assistant phone calls: If your phone is ringing but out of reach, you can now say “Hey Google, answer call” or “OK Google, reject call.”
- Better Gboard clipboard: If you copy text information that includes things like phone numbers, email addresses, URLs, etc., Google’s Gboard will automatically parse them out and show them as paste options. This should make it even easier to share information within messaging apps.
- Call Screen: Pixel users in Japan can now take advantage of Call Screen — the feature in which Assistant answers your calls for you to help weed out spam.
- Recorder languages: You will soon be able to use the Recorder app in more English-based dialects, including Singaporean, Australian, Irish, and British English. This is rolling out by the end of July.
That’s it for the new Pixel feature drops! You’ll need to wait until September 2021 for the next one.