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December Pixel Feature Drop Unleashes New Camera & AI Features

Google’s Pixel feature drop for December is here and it adds a fair amount of new features for Pixel devices both new and old. Some are exclusive to the Pixel 8 Pro. At the same time, others are rolling out to all of Google’s more recent Pixel devices from the last few years. Even the Pixel Watch is getting some love with a few features of its own. For phones, there’s a big focus on the camera with Video Boost finally going live. There’s also a big focus on AI-powered features.

With that said, there are quite a few new features in today’s update. So let’s break things down.

Helpful AI smarts

If you’re running a Pixel 8 Pro, then the December feature drop is delivering two new features called Smart Reply and Summarize. Smart Reply is a new feature being added to Gboard that as the name suggests, uses smart AI responses to help you reply to incoming messages. It’s powered by Google’s new Gemini Nano AI model. When a message comes in, it’ll give you a high-quality response with conversational awareness. You don’t have to use this message of course. But if you’re short on time and the response ticks all the boxes of what you wanted to say, you can send a reply in two quick taps as opposed to typing everything out.

At the moment this is only going to be available in WhatsApp. But Google does confirm it’ll be coming to other messaging apps in 2024. It’s available globally as well but only in the US English keyboard language. The other new feature is called Summarize and is available in the Recorder app. With this, you can receive a summary of any recordings you capture using the app. You don’t even need an internet connection for it to work because the Gemini Nano AI handles everything on the device. This is available globally as well, but once again only in English for now.

The Recorder app is also gaining support for new languages outside of the Summarize feature. Following the feature drop update the Recorder app will now transcribe in 28 more languages.

Capture the world with smarter camera features

The bulk of this update is about the camera. So naturally, there are quite a few camera features included.

Video Boost

Pixel December Feature Drop Video BoostPixel December Feature Drop Video Boost

The biggest is likely Video Boost. Using the power of the Tensor G3 chip Video Boost takes your recorded videos and processes them in the cloud to apply several different adjustments. Such as lighting and color to deliver a more true-to-life video. It also stabilizes the video by removing any shakiness that could have occurred during the initial recording process.

Night Sight Video

There’s also Night Sight Video and Night Sight in Timelapse. The former is a Pixel 8 Pro-only feature and brings all of the magic of Night Sight photos to your video recordings. Whether you’re recording videos at night or in a dimly lit area, Night Sight Video uses Video Boost to remove the noise from the footage to result in a brighter video with more color and detail.

Night Sight Timelapse

Pixel December Feature Drop Night Sight TimelapsePixel December Feature Drop Night Sight Timelapse

Night Sight Timelapse is very much the same thing but for Timelapse videos. This will be available for both the Pixel 8 Pro and the standard Pixel 8.

Photo Unblur and Portrait Light upgrades

Pixel December Feature Drop Photo Unblur UpgradePixel December Feature Drop Photo Unblur Upgrade

The last two camera features being added with this update are Photo Unblur and Portrait Light upgrades. These features in general were already available. But they now do more thanks to the Gemini Nano AI model. Photo Unblur will now result in a better overall image when you take photos of your dogs and cats by increasing the sharpening of the image. Google says this will also work for people’s faces and backgrounds.

As for Portrait Light, it now uses AI to take out harsh shadows and improve light in photos you’ve taken. This works with both new photos and old photos that are already in your gallery. Both upgrades will be available on Pixel devices from the Pixel 6 series forward including the Pixel Tablet and Pixel Fold.

The Pixel Watch becomes more useful

Pixel December Feature Drop Pixel Watch Call ScreenPixel December Feature Drop Pixel Watch Call Screen

Google is adding a few key upgrades to the Pixel Watch series to make them even more useful devices. Starting with the Pixel Watch, it’ll now sync Bedtime Mode and Do Not Disturb Mode from your phone. It’s also getting new watch faces and complication styles. These were already available on the Pixel Watch 2 and have made the jump to Google’s first watch. Both devices are also getting two new features.

First up is the watch unlock. As noted by 9To5Google, Google announced this feature at the beginning of 2022 so it’s a long time coming. If you have a compatible Pixel phone (the Pixel 5a and newer) your watch will be able to unlock your device whenever it’s in the immediate vicinity. This essentially removes the need for a password, pin, fingerprint, or face unlock. Your watch will need to already be unlocked for this to work.

The other new feature is Call Screen. Now your Pixel Watch will show you any of the information Call Screen is already picking up on your compatible Pixel phone. So you can more accurately decide if the call is worth picking up or not.

More productivity features are being added

Google’s Pixel devices are all about helping you be more productive and tackling your day as efficiently as possible. To that end, the December Pixel feature drop includes a host of productivity features. One really neat feature being added is the Clean feature. Say you take a picture of a receipt but it’s got a stain on it. With Clean, you can remove the stain from that document scan in “just a few swipes.” Clean is accessed through the camera app.

You can also now use your Pixel phone as a webcam for your desktop or laptop PC. Simply plug in the phone with a USB cable and you’ll see an alert that the phone is connected as a webcam. This will work for Pixel 6 phones and onwards as well as the Pixel Fold and Pixel Tablet. A new Repair Mode is being added that will “keep your personal data protected and preserved” when the phone is in the shop being repaired. Google recommends a strong screen lock for further protection.

Additionally, Google is adding Spatial Audio for the Pixel Tablet and a new Dual Screen Preview mode for the Pixel Fold. With the latter feature, subjects can now see themselves on the outer screen of the Pixel Fold while the photographer is getting things ready with the inner screen.

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