Google’s making good on its promise to bring a much-touted photo feature to all of its phones and has a couple of other goodies for Pixel owners in its latest feature drop. The update is being made available now to Pixel phones, and it includes Magic Eraser for all devices, a faster Night Sight for the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, and a Direct My Call enhancement for older Pixels.
Magic Eraser debuted on the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro and was also available on last year’s Pixel 7 and 7 Pro. That means it’s only been available on phones with Google’s custom Tensor chipset, which might lead you to believe it could only run on phones with Tensor. That’s clearly not the case — last month, Google announced the feature would be offered with older Pixel devices and would also come bundled with Google One subscriptions for non-Pixel Android and iOS users. That said, there are a few qualifications: your phone needs to have at least 3GB of RAM and must be running Android 8.0 or iOS 15.0 or later.
Today’s feature drop also brings one of the Pixel 7’s camera enhancements to the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro: faster Night Sight. Night mode on the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro doesn’t do anything fundamentally different; it just runs a second or two faster. That may not sound like much, but it makes a big difference in real-world use. Now, the 6 and 6 Pro will get that benefit, too, thanks to “new algorithms powered by Google Tensor,” according to a Google blog post.
Tensor may be required to speed up Night Mode, but it is apparently not a requirement for the updated Direct My Call introduced on the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro. Direct My Call — currently supported on the Pixel 3A and later — creates a live transcript of phone tree options as they’re read on a call. The enhanced Direct My Call on the 7 and 7 Pro is able to transcribe menu options before they’re read in some cases. That upgrade is coming to Pixel 4A phones and newer for “many of the most popular toll-free numbers in the US.”
Google is also making good on its promise of an ultra-wideband enabled digital car key. This update allows the Pixel 6 Pro and 7 Pro to utilize this technology to unlock or lock a compatible car without taking your phone out of your pocket. An existing version of the digital car key feature works with NFC, so you need to hold your phone near your car’s door handle for it to work. The UWB version will only work with “select 2022+ BMW models.”
There’s a hodgepodge of other updates, too: the ability to set a timer on a Nest device and then view it on your Pixel, a hub for your health and fitness data settings called Health Connect, and for the Pixel Watch, a previously announced fall detection feature.
Google is bringing a lot of its newer Pixel features to older devices, which we love to see, but there are still a few newer Pixel 7 and 7 Pro features that haven’t made it to older models, including face unlock, Clear Calling, and Cinematic Blur video mode. These features seem more closely tied to the hardware on the new devices, so we’re not holding our breath that they’ll make it to previous-gen phones. In the meantime, you can find the full list of bug fixes and software version numbers to look out for at Google’s Pixel support website.
Update March 13th, 1:45PM ET: Added information about digital car key enhancements for the Pixel 6 Pro and Pixel 7 Pro.