One of my favourite things about owning a Google Pixel smartphone are the semi-regular Feature Drop software upgrades, which add new functionality for no extra charge. The latest starts rolling out today, bringing Circle to Search and AI-assisted messaging into the fold. Don’t have a Pixel in your pocket yet? Google is also adding a new Mint colourway to both Pixel 8 models.
The big new addition is Circle to Search, which made its debut on the Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra just a few weeks ago. A press-and-hold of the home button (or gesture indicator if you’re using gesture navigation) now lets you circle any onscreen object for an instantaneous Google search.
In my short time with the S24 Ultra I found results to be astonishingly accurate, recognising even small elements of images and suggesting relevant products or places. You can then follow up with natural language questions, rather than kick off an entirely new search.
Google’s generative AI tech finds its way into Google Messages with this latest Feature Drop. You can write a message, then have the phone redo it in a more professional manner, or make it more concise. It’ll even do a bang-on Shakespeare impression with your words. It’s done on-device on the Google Pixel 8 Pro, while Pixel 6 and newer handsets offload things to the Cloud.
The Pixel 8 Pro can also put its temperature sensor to better use now, scanning your forehead to get an accurate body temperature measurement. Results can be shared straight to your Fitbit profile, for better health insights.
Nearby Share also becomes Quick Share with this update. The Samsung-Google partnership expands compatibility with Android, ChromeOS and Windows devices, for sharing content with friends or your other personal gadgets.
Other new additions include Photomoji in Google Messages, for turning your favourite snaps into easily sendable reactions, and audio switching to your Pixel Watch. Now your Pixel Buds Pro will be able to hop between your Pixel phone, Pixel Tablet and Pixel wristwear on the fly, rather than manually.
The Feature Drop should appear on your Pixel phone in the coming weeks. The Mint Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro are both available to order right now, directly from the Google Store.