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Feature update for Pixels: One feature to make everyone jealous

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Besides quick security updates, Google's feature updates are a big selling point for Pixel devices. For the last time this year, Pixel users can look forward to new features that are exclusively available on devices from Pixel 3a to Pixel 6 Pro for a certain period of time. One feature specifically is causing quite a stir.


  • Last feature update for Pixel smartphones in 2021.
  • The update's highlight is the addition of auto-transcription in the Recorder app for older Pixels from the Pixel 3a.
  • The features should be available in the next few days.

A few weeks ago, Google made headlines with the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. The new smartphones represent a change in strategy by Google because from now on, the company relies on its own processors. Thus, there were already Pixel 6-exclusive features at launch that are only possible with the new Tensor SoC. So, for the last time in 2021, Google is celebrating a "feature drop" for Pixel phones.

If you're using a Pixel phone that's newer than the Pixel 3a, you can look forward to new features. They should be coming to your phone in the next few days in the next Android 12 update. If not, you can also update Android manually to see if a new version is available.

From cool to lame: these are the new features in the "feature drop."

Below, I'll give you a quick rundown of each feature. I'm basing this on my very subjective scale, "from cool to lame." Let's go!

Auto-Transcriptions finally in other languages.

Like many of you, I was thrilled and disappointed at the same time when trying out the auto-transcription in the Recorder app - the feature is technically impressive and was unfortunately only available in English. But now, if you start audio recordings in the Recorder app during discussions in other languages, your Pixel will automatically generate a transcript. We'll find out how well that works soon enough. Google mentions German, French, and Japanese, among other languages.

Google Pixel recorder
Guten Tag: Google's Recorder app finally transcribes in German too / © NextPit

Now Playing gets search function

The feature "Now Playing" recognizes locally on the device which song is currently playing in the vicinity of your phone. It is a practical function, but experience has shown that it is not all that reliable. It's estimated that the phone recognizes about 30 percent of songs without your help. So that you don't miss your favorite song, you'll soon find a new search button for direct access to the Assistant's music recognition. There's also a favorites button on the lock screen.

Snapchat faster to access

Do you use the social media network Snapchat? If so, you can now launch the Snapchat camera via the "Quick Tap" function. You tap twice on the back of your phone, and the app opens. However, this feature is only available on the Pixel 4a (5G) and above.

Digital car key and ultra-wideband

The other day, the Android team was excited about this feature: In a few BMW cars, you can use your smartphone as a digital car key. Simply hold your phone up to the driver's door, and the car will pop open. Like with your wireless keys, the car starts as soon as the phone is inside the cabin. The Pixel 6 Pro can now use the ultra-wideband chip, too, by the way.

Pixel Buds A Series.max 1000x1000
The Pixel Buds-A get more or less bass - as you wish! / © Google

More bass for the Pixel Buds and new backgrounds

Last but not least: The Pixel Buds of the A-series get a new bass control. You can find it in the accompanying app. Another sign for more inclusion at Google: There are new wallpapers to celebrate the International Day of People with Disabilities. They were designed by Dana Kearly. As Google writes, she is a "multidisciplinary artist with a physical disability."

What do you think of the last feature update of the year? Are you excited about the new features? Let me know in the comments!

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Benjamin Lucks

Benjamin Lucks
Head of Editorial DE

Ben has been working in tech journalism since 2018, was a freelancer in the middle of the CoVid-crisis and has been full-time at NextPit since November '20. Since then he has tries to find the right mix between professional competence, humor and fresh perspectives in reviews and texts.

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