Google’s March Pixel feature drop brings Motion Sense, Dark Mode improvements

The March security update brings a few goodies for Pixel owners.

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Christopher Hebert/IDG

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Right on cue, Google has begun rolling its March security update, and much like the December update, this one’s packed with new features to enhance the Pixel experience. All said, Google has added a dozen or so new features for Pixel owners, ranging from new emoji to new gestures for Motion Sense on the Pixel 4.

Many of the features in the March feature drop are solely for Pixel 4 users, though there’s a little something for owners of all generations. Most notably, Pixel 2 users will be able to enjoy Live Caption, which uses AI to automatically transcribe captions for any video playing on your phone. Also, all Pixels will be receiving several interface tweaks, including Dark Mode scheduling, Rules to enable Do Not Disturb and other routines based on Wi-Fi network or physical location, and “a more diverse and inclusive set of emojis.”

You’ll also be able to press and hold the power button when using Google Pay to swipe through your cards and passes. Google Pay is also gaining the ability to quickly scan a boarding pass just by taking a screenshot to add it to your digital wallet for automatic flight updates.

Additionally, the Personal Safety app, which can detect if you’ve been in an accident and automatically call 911, is expanding beyond the United States. Users in Australia and the U.K. will also be able to use the app, though it’s still currently limited to the Pixel 4.

Also exclusive to the Pixel 4:

  • The selfie cam can now create images with depth to augment Portrait Blur and color pop, as well as aid in the creation of 3D photos for Facebook.
  • You’ll be able to use Motion Sense to pause tracks by “tapping” the air above your phone.
  • Long-pressing on an app icon will deliver “get more and faster help” via a new set of menu options.
  • Have fun with your Duo calls with AR effects that “change based on your facial expressions, and move with you around the screen.”
  • Adaptive brightness will be able to temporarily increases screen brightness to make reading content easier when in direct sunlight.
  • Quickly access emergency contacts and medical information by long-pressing the power button.

The Pixel update is rolling out to all phones beginning today. You can check for the update inside the System tab in Settings. 

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