Near the end of last year, Google outlined a new strategy of bundling together new software tricks for its Pixel phones into “feature drops” instead of trickling those features out individually. Today, the company is announcing its second feature drop, with much of the new stuff available for the Pixel 2 and newer — but some Pixel 4 exclusives in there.
It introduces a new Motion Sense gesture for the Pixel 4 and 4 XL: just “tap” above your phone with a flat hand (without actually touching it) to pause and resume music or other audio that’s playing.
Personally, I’m someone who quickly turned off Motion Sense, so I’m more excited about the Pixel phones picking up more location-based smarts. “You can now set up a rule to automatically silence your ringtone when you connect to your office Wi-Fi, or go on Do Not Disturb when you walk in the front door of your house to focus on the people and things that matter most,” product manager Susie Church wrote in a blog post.
You can now automatically switch between light and dark themes based on the time of day, with things going dark at sunset and switching back to normal at sunrise. There’s also a new batch of emoji coming in this Pixel drop with a focus on inclusion, wider gender variations, more couple combinations, and other additions.
If you use Duo for your video calls, Google is also introducing new AR effects that you can apply over your face when chatting with people. They move as you move and change with your facial expressions. (These will only be available on Pixel 3 — not 3A — and the 4.) “Selfies on Pixel 4 are getting better, too. Your front-facing camera can now create images with depth, which improves Portrait Blur and color pop, and lets you create 3D photos for Facebook,” Church wrote. The car crash detection that launched on Pixel 4 back in the fall has come to new countries as well.
Last, holding down the power button can now bring up your Google Pay payment cards, tickets, boarding passes, and whatever else you’ve got in there. Speaking of boarding passes, Google says you can now just take a screenshot of a boarding pass barcode on your screen and add it to Google Pay with a tap.
Here’s Google’s support page that outlines when everything will be available. Most of it should land this month starting with the March security update.