Wednesday, June 12, 2024

12 useful features Google just announced for Pixel phones, watches, and tablets

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Kerry Wan/ZDNET

Google has announced another feature drop for Pixel devices, and Find My Device is already getting an upgrade. Several other nice additions are coming, too, including an easy way to see who called you, a new way to pay, and some significant safety features. Google phones, watches, and tablets are all getting some love. Here’s a look at what’s coming.

Also: My Google Pixel 9 wish list may upset some Android fans (but it’ll be worth it)

New to Pixel phones in June

For Google phones, several features are on the way, the biggest involving Find My Device. Users will now be able to use the Find My Device app to locate Pixel 8 or Pixel Pro devices even when the handsets are not powered on. Previously, users could track only devices when they were connected to the internet, but now you can find a phone with a dead battery or one that’s been turned off.

Also on the way are:

  • Gemini Nano: Google’s latest AI model is now available on the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8a as a developer option. This was previously only available on the Pixel 8 Pro.
  • Reverse phone number lookup: Users can now look up an unknown number by doing a reverse search from the call log. 
  • Summarize in recorder: Your recorder app can now create detailed summaries, including the names of speakers. Once the app creates transcripts, users can export them into text files or Google Docs.
  • Display port support: Users can watch movies and shows on a larger screen by connecting a Pixel phone to a secondary display with a USB-C cable.

Most Pixels owners likely won’t use the developer option for Nano, but for those who want a peek behind the scenes, it’s nice to have it available on two more devices. I can see the new summary option for the recorder app becoming quite popular, especially with students taking notes in a class.

New to Pixel watches in June

Pixel watches are also getting in on the upgrades and will see a new way to pay, crash and fall detection, plus more. Heading to the Pixel Watch are:

  • Car crash detection and better bicycle fall detection: Vehicle crash detection is now available on the Pixel Watch 2. This feature checks to make sure a user is OK and will dial emergency services and emergency contacts if needed after a car crash is detected. Additionally, Google has updated fall detection to better detect falls from bicycles for both the original Pixel Watch and the second generation.
  • PayPal Wallet: Pixel Watch users can now make payments quickly and conveniently by using PayPal to make purchases.

Pixel phones already have crash detection, but it’s nice to have an additional layer of security with this feature coming to the Pixel Watch. And better support for a bicycle crash is nice, given that the phone might not detect that style of accident. 

Also: Google is turning its TVs into Home hubs and giving devs access to over 600 million smart devices

Deeper integration with Google Home is also arriving, including a Google Home Favorites tab that lists connected devices and the ability to add a smart device to the Wear OS watch face where users can control things with a few taps. Google is adding more options as well, including the ability to adjust fan rotation, speed, and humidifier settings.

New to the Pixel tablet and Pixel ecosystem overall

Last up is the Pixel Tablet, which is getting a small but useful doorbell notification feature that gives a snapshot of who’s at the door when the tablet is in docked mode.

Also: Google Pixel Tablet review: What Android tablets should have been all along

Across the entire ecosystem of devices, Pixel cameras can now automatically identify the best moment from a photo in HDR+ with a single shutter press.

Google says these new features should start rolling out today. As with past feature drops, it usually takes a few days to roll out to all devices, so if you don’t see them today, you should before the end of the week.

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