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Google's March Pixel Update: The Best Features Now Added to the Pixels

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Google is rolling out its March feature drop update starting today to the Pixel 8, Pixel 7, and Pixel Fold devices which includes support for Ultra HDR photos and HDR videos on Instagram. The update also added essential features to the Pixel Watch and Pixel Watch 2 (review).

Ultra HDR and HDR videos arrive on Pixel devices

Samsung's Galaxy S24 series was the first to feature Ultra HDR photos on the Instagram app. Not too long after, this feature is arriving on Google's Pixel 8 (review), Pixel 7, and Pixel Fold (review). With this update, users are now able to view or upload Ultra HDR shots to their Instagram feed, which has been limited to standard HDR shots prior.

With Ultra HDR, it's Google's newly developed image format introduced in Android 14 which uses a new way to store images' HDR gain map while retaining backward compatibility with the more prominent .jpeg format. Ultra HDR photos exhibit more life-like colors and better contrast compared to standard HDR shots.

In addition, Pixel users can also record Instagram Reels videos in 10-bit HDR and directly upload and share them on their Instagram feeds.

Circle to Search for the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro

Another feature that first debuted on the Galaxy S24 was Circle to Search which relies on AI. Google followed suit by adopting the tool on the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro (review) in January. In the latest Pixel feature drop update, it finally arrives on the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. Unfortunately, there's no word on when the Pixel Fold will receive Circle to Search.

Google's Pixel 8 feature Circle to Search
Activate Google's Pixel Circle to Search feature when long pressing the home button. / © Google

Google's Pixel Circle to Search works through a long press on the home or navigation button. Users can then circle or tap on the objects or texts they want to highlight on their screen and subsequently receive related web search results.

Improved Call Screen for the Pixel devices

Google will improve the Call Screen feature on the Pixel 6 and later Pixel models via the update as well. There is a new action included in the form of a “hello” chip that will be visible if the caller has been silent. When you tap the button, Google Assistant will describe the screened call and provide more context to the caller for them to respond.

Google's Call Screen is currently available in the USA and supports the English language.

Auto workout detection, Heart Zone, and Pace Training on the Pixel Watch

The Pixel Watch will also receive a few wellness features. Last year, the Pixel Watch gained the ability to automatically pause workouts. With the update, the smartwatch receives automatic detection when you initiate an exercise as well as automatically end it once it detects you've completed an activity. These physical activity options include running, walking, elliptical, rowing, outdoor bike, and treadmill.

Already available on the Pixel Watch 2, Heart Zone Training and Pace Training will also arrive on the original Pixel Watch. The former allows for the personalization of heart zone levels and goal setting. In addition, there will be alerts when switching between different heart zone levels.

As for Pace Training, you can set pace goals on your wrist and receive notifications if you've achieved or missed your goal. This leverages on the motion sensors and GPS to track your speed and distance covered.

Google Maps on Wear OS
Google Maps on Wear OS adds public transit directions / © Google / Edit by nextpit

First announced last month at MWC, the Google Maps app on Pixel Watch and Pixel Watch 2 gets public transit directions covering bus, train, and ferry rides. Navigation on how to get to the designated point and departures time can be viewed as well.

Other Pixel features for a wider number of Pixel devices and the Pixel Tablet

There are also enhancements to older Pixel handsets and the Pixel Tablet with the March feature drop. Starting with the Pixel Tablet (review), it adds a new Gboard voice toolbar. Upon activating the feature, it automatically hides the keyboard in a toolbar, providing a cleaner and expansive view.

Last but not least, during video calls, users can now share their screen or record individual apps instead of showing the entire share window previously. It works with Pixel 5a and new Pixel handset models and the Pixel Tablet.

Google mentioned the March Pixel feature drop update is already shipping to compatible Pixel devices in regions outside of the USA. The update is set to be available in the USA next week.

Source: Google

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Jade Bryan

Jade Bryan
Junior Editor

I still remember how amazed I was when I first got hold of the Nokia 3210 back when I was a kid, and it was during that time I developed my love for technology, particularly for mobile phones. I started sharing my knowledge through writing in different blogs and forums back in Nokia Nseries era. I even make videos before where I put different phones side-by-side. Today, I'm still an avid enthusiast of smartphones, but my interests have evolved into smart devices and electric vehicles.

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