December has become one of our favorites months in recent years because it means Google Pixel phones receive a huge quarterly update that coincides with a Pixel Feature Drop. So not only do they all get major bug fixer updates, new and exclusive features arrive to take us into the new year.
For December’s Pixel Feature Drop, Google is giving its new Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro phones several new features, but there are other goodies for the rest of the still-supported Pixel line-up to enjoy. Oh yeah, the Pixel Watch is also (technically) getting its first Feature Drop too.
Here’ all that is new in the December 2022 Pixel Feature Drop:
- VPN by Google One for Pixel 7: One of the exclusive features announced at the Pixel 7 launch was a free VPN service through Google One. That didn’t come live with the phones and was instead scheduled for December, which we are now in. This should be live and you can find it by opening the Google One app (Google Play Link) and then jumping into the “VPN” section. Turning it on is as simple as flipping a toggle there. You’ll also now find a quick settings button to turn it off or on too.
- Clear Calling for Pixel 7: This is another one of those Pixel 7 event features that was scheduled to arrive later and it is now here. Clear Calling is a feature on Pixel 7 devices that reduces background noise and enhances the voice of the person on the other side of the call. It first arrived in an Android 13 beta build in October. You’ll find the toggle for it in Settings>Sound & Vibration.
- Recorder speaker labels for Pixel 7, Pixel 6: Again, here is another launch feature for the Pixel 7. These Recorder app speaker labels can detect when multiple speakers are talking, label them, and add line breaks between each. Pretty cool.
- Spatial Audio for Pixel 7, Pixel 6, 6a: With the launch of the Pixel Buds Pro, we’ve been waiting for Spatial Audio to arrive, because they support it. While I’d love to tell you that it is now here, Google is announcing today that it will show up in January. So you have another month to go before you’ll get head-tracking, super immersive surround sound on your Pixel.
- New Security hub: Pixel phones are getting a new privacy and security hub that’s unified, so that you can review all of your privacy settings and risk levels in one place. It’ll show you action cards and try to notify you if something looks off and needs your attention.
- New Pixel wallpapers: If you take a look in the “Curated Culture” section of the wallpapers area on your Pixel phone, you’ll find new papers to celebrate International Day of People with Disabilities.
- Snore, sleep, and more on Pixel 6: The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro can now tell you about sleep issues, like snoring, coughing, and how much you are on your phone at bedtime.
- Universal search on more devices: The universal search of your phone for things like contacts, apps, screenshots, settings, and more are now available on the way back to the Pixel 4a line.
- Live Translate in new languages: The Live Translate on Pixel phones can now translate in Arabic, Persian, Swedish, Vietnamese, and Danish.
- Fitbit Sleep Profile: This was announced in November, but Google is trying to use it as a Feature Drop item. As a part of Fitbit Premium, you will now get a Sleep Profile animal assigned to you. You can read more about it here.
- New Tiles for Weather and Contacts: As a part of the December Android Feature Drop, Google announced that new Tiles for Contacts and sunrise/sunset were here, as well as a better Keep experience. This is a Wear OS thing, but I guess it counts.
- Fall Detection (still coming): Not sure why Google has announced this again, but for this December Drop, they are reminding us that Fall Detection will come to the Pixel Watch at some point in 2023.
And that’s pretty much it!
A lot of what we just talked about is app-related, so you’ll see these new features as the related apps see updates over the next few days or weeks. But keep in mind that this is also the day that the huge December quarterly Android update arrives on Pixel phones and should address all sorts of bugs (all 77 of them). Many of you have been testing it in beta since September – it is now in stable for all.