Skip to main content

The latest Pixel feature drop includes Adaptive Sound and enhanced battery management

The Google Pixel 5 is getting a little smarter … again. Just three months after the last Pixel feature drop, the new device is getting another one. This time around, the new features include improved GPS, so-called Adaptive Sound, and better battery management.

While the Pixel 5 is the only device that is getting all of the new features, certain features are coming to older Pixels. And some of the headline features that launched on the Pixel 5 are heading to older models, helping make the overall Pixel experience more similar no matter which generation you have.

Perhaps the coolest new feature is Adaptive Sound. The feature essentially works like some smart speakers and headphones, changing its tuning depending on the listener’s environment. It does this by measuring the frequency response of audio using the built-in microphone. Google says the feature may be “less noticeable at higher volumes,” but at lower volumes we’ll take any improvement to the speaker tuning we can get. Adaptive Sound is only coming to the Pixel 4a 5G and the Pixel 5.

The other major new feature is Adaptive Connectivity, which takes a cue from Apple’s playbook and automatically switches between 5G and 4G depending on what you’re doing in the moment. Google says the feature will use 4G for things like web browsing and messaging that need less data, and switch to 5G for movies and large file downloads. Both the Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5 will get this feature, but the experience may differ depending on your carrier.

Next up is Adaptive Charging, which is another feature that Google is deploying after we’ve seen it used across several other phones. But it isn’t about battery life. This feature controls charging speeds to help preserve battery health over time. For example, the feature will slowly charge your phone overnight when it knows it isn’t in use, and finish in the morning before your alarm goes off. By keeping your phone away from 100%, it can prolong its performance over the course of years.

As mentioned, Google is also bringing some of its previous features to other Pixels . Notably, the Hold for Me feature, which uses Google Assistant to wait on hold for you and notify you when you’re taken off hold, is coming to Pixel phones including the Pixel 3 and later. The same goes for Extreme Battery Saver, which turns off more features and pauses more apps than the normal battery saver.

Other new features include an improved editor in Google Photos, with a tab that suggests edits based on what you’re editing. Users can now also personalize their home screen with new icons, grid views, and app shapes. There are also custom wallpapers of famous artworks.

The feature drop is rolling out now, and will fully expand to all users over the next few days.

Editors' Recommendations

Christian de Looper
Christian’s interest in technology began as a child in Australia, when he stumbled upon a computer at a garage sale that he…
Pixel Feature Drops used to be spectacular — now they’re horribly mediocre
The back of the Pixel 7 Pro and Pixel 6 Pro.

With the Pixel line, Google introduced the concept of Feature Drops — small quarterly updates delivered to push quality-of-life improvements to Pixel phones. The promise is simple: your Pixel phone gets better over time. Still, Google's approach to updates has recently left much to be desired, with most Feature Drops this year consisting of little but emoji updates and new wallpapers for most Pixel users. At the same time, improved software update timelines from other smartphone makers continue to leave Google's promises in the dust.
Questionable decisions
While Google's Feature Drops have gone larger on the macro scale, they have also grown more limited at the same time. The company has dedicated column space to objectively good causes and highlighted wallpapers and art by minority communities — including, people of color, women, and the LGBT community. It's also done some fun things with the emoji kitchen app that extends the number of emoji available on Android. Feature drops also come with fantastic new features for Pixel hardware.

Simultaneously, there are times that Google does roll out genuinely useful features to Pixel phones -- only to lock them to new releases like the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro. The Pixel Feature Drops can be amazing, but Pixel 6 owners are getting short shrift just a year into their purported four-five year support cycle — not to talk of the Pixel 5.

Read more
5 Android camera features that I need to have on my iPhone
iPhone 14 Pro and Google Pixel 7 Pro.

One of my favorite things to do with my iPhone 14 Pro is to take photos. Whether it’s part of my attempt to be artsy by snapping spontaneous moments with my husband and daughter, or just capturing the magic at Disneyland, I have a ton of photos. Though I don’t have time to edit every single one, I do like to spend time making edits on my favorites just to improve how they look before I post them on social media. But the built-in tools on the iPhone for taking photos and editing them are, well, lacking.

I’ve been testing a few different Android devices since I joined Digital Trends, and let me tell you — it’s been a trip. I’ve discovered so many new photo and camera tools on various Android devices that just show how much Apple is behind in that regard, despite being one of the most popular devices for mobile photography.

Read more
This is the Pixel 2’s secret eye-scanning feature that never was
Google Pixel 2 XL - Best Android phones

Google's Pixel 2 was one of the best phones the company made, but it had the potential to be even cooler. The Internal Archive this weekend shared a prototype of an early Pixel 2 model that was equipped with iris-scanning technology. Google did not ultimately ship the Pixel 2 with an iris scanner, opting instead for its Pixel Imprint rear-mounted fingerprint sensor.

According to the Archive, the Pixel prototype here was a single-purpose one. It was dedicated nearly entirely to testing iris recognition. The front camera is gone, replaced by an infrared unit, and the rear camera lacks LEDs as well. Even the software loaded on the phone is an entirely basic version of Android with nothing but the bare necessities.

Read more