For many months now, Google let us test a big quarterly update that would eventually turn into the June Pixel Feature Drop. It arrived via Android Beta program beginning in March and is on the 3rd beta at the moment. During testing, it lacked the “feature” part of the Feature Drop, as it was mostly a quarterly bug fixer that Google would use as setup for a splashier arrival once it went stable. Today, it has gone stable and the Feature Drop is here.
You already know the build and update details from this write-up, so let’s talk here about what’s new from a feature standpoint for those with a Pixel 3, Pixel 3a, Pixel 4, Pixel 4a, Pixel 5, Pixel 5a, Pixel 6, and Pixel 6 Pro.
At a Glance gets Nest, Flashlight, Air Quality alerts
The At a Glance widget that lives at the top of your main Pixel home screen and on your lock screen is getting three new features. The first is for Nest Doorbell alerts, where you’ll now see the person in At a Glance who just rang your doorbell. You’ll need an actual Nest Doorbell for this, as well as the Google Home app.
The second is a Flashlight reminder. If you forgot to turn your flashlight off and for some reason can’t see it beaming everyone’s eyes out the back of your phone, a little reminder/shortcut in At a Glance will let you turn it back off.
And finally, Google is preparing to show you Air Quality alerts in At a Glance based on your current location. This will work for users in the US, Australia, and India.
New App: Pocket Operator by teenage engineering
The next new item up for grabs is an app called Pocket Operator and its exclusive to Pixel phones for now. Made in collaboration with teenage engineering, this new app lets you shoot video content and then “turn it into fun music and video cut-ups.” There are layers, visual effects, and patterns and beats that can be mixed about to create tracks.
Once live, Pocket Operator will live at Google Play. It will be available to the Pixel 5 and newer.
Google Play Link: Pocket Operator
New Pride Month wallpapers
To celebrate Pride Month, Google is adding three new wallpapers in their Curated Culture collection. The wallpapers were made by Yann Bastard and feature “big, bold shapes and bright colors.”
Vaccine card shortcut on home screen
I’m not sure there are as many vaccine card requirements as there was a year or so ago, but Google is still giving those with vaccine cards an easier way to save them digitally for easy access. Now, when you take a screenshot of your digital vaccine card, you’ll be able to save a shortcut to it on your home screen.
This feature is available in the US, Canada, and Australia. Availability will also depend on state and healthcare providers.
Other new features and those expanding to more phones:
- Real Tone Filters: The Real Tone Filters that Google announced at Google I/O to improve representation of diverse skin tones in Google Photos are now live. You’ll find these in Google Photos under the filters menu when editing a photo.
- Conversation Mode in Sound Amplifier out of beta: The Conversation Mode in the Sound Amplifier app that Google previously released in beta is now available to all Pixel 3 and newer phones.
- Car Crash Detection: Google has expanded Car Crash Detection in Canada for the Pixel 3 and newer (excluding the Pixel 3a).
- Live chat translations in new languages: Google has made live chat translations available in Chinese, Dutch, Korean, Thai, and Turkish on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro.
Again, most of this Feature Drop stuff is rolling out as early as today alongside the June Pixel update.
To check for the update, head into Settings>System>System update.
How Good is Android 13 on Pixel Phones?
The stable Android 13 update has been out since the beginning of the week and that means a couple of days for you to run it and establish first impressions. I’m curious what those are, as the update is somewhat minor in new features, but huge in terms of bug fixes from Android 12.
To recap, Android 13 dropped on Monday for the Pixel 4, Pixel 4a, Pixel 5, Pixel 5a, Pixel 6, and Pixel 6a. The update was available immediately if you felt like playing in adb, plus we’ve seen it rollout over-the-air as well to some phones. Tim, for example, says he can pull it yet I can’t on my Pixel 6 Pro. Rude, Google.
We talked about all of the new features in Android 13 that you’ll want to be on the lookout for and then spent a lengthy amount of time looking through the list of 150 bugs that Google fixed. Google says it was able to improve “performance, stability, and reliability,” fixed bugs related to charging and Gboard and touch screen palm detection and so much more. Google even says it addressed fingerprint reader performance on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6a.
After browsing through reddit, I can see that a number of folks have been quick to share that their fingerprint reader is indeed faster (Do people really believe this?) and that overall performance and stuttering has improved, especially on older Pixel phones.
What about you? How has Android 13 been running on your Pixel phone this week? Or are you still waiting for it?
Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro Get Major Approval Ahead of Launch
The Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro stopped through the FCC this week, marking a big step towards launch that should happen around October, if previous launches are any indicator. The filings don’t reveal much, other than supported network bands and the presence of UWB again, but they do give us model numbers to pin on each phone going forward.
There are four FCC filings of note to dip into under Google’s FCC ID. Those filings give us model numbers of GVU6C, GQML3, GP4BC, and GE2AE. After looking through several of the documents at the FCC, I’m pretty confident in saying that the first two are the Pixel 7 and the last two are the Pixel 7 Pro. The GVU6C Pixel 7 also has an alternate model number of G03Z5 alongside it, as does the Pixel 7 Pro’s GE2AE, where GFE4J can be added to its list.
To recap, we have Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro model numbers as follows:
- PIXEL 7: GVU6C (G03Z5)
- PIXEL 7: GQML3 – mmW
- PIXEL 7 PRO: GP4BC – UWB
- PIXEL 7 PRO: GE2AE (GFE4J) – UWB, mmW
Each phone has all of the proper network bands to work well here in the US, with select models also supporting 5G mmW. The two models supporting mmW are GQML3 (Pixel 7) and GE2AE (Pixel 7 Pro). The others support sub-6 5G, just not the super speedy 5G mmW that you’ll never attach to anyway.
To tell the difference between Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro devices, we really are guessing (assuming) based on the fact that GP4BC and GE2AE have UWB or ultra-wideband support. In the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, only the Pixel 6 Pro had UWB and it looks like that’ll be the case again this year. UWB is used for short-range communications in things like luggage trackers or to help a digital car key talk to a car.
The rest of the big network stuff can be see below, where you’ll find WiFi 6E, NFC, and WPT (wireless power transfer aka wireless charging).
Pixel 7 network bands
Pixel 7 Pro network bands
There isn’t much else to take from this because Google already announced each phone. We’re really just waiting for them to go official, so that we can start playing with their cameras, test Google Tensor 2, and see if Google took are of all of the Pixel 6 line’s modem issues.
If you were hoping this arrival at the FCC would tell us when the Pixel 7 will launch, I’m not sure that it does. The Pixel 6 line hit the FCC in September 2021 and then arrived in October. The Pixel 6a showed up at the FCC in April 2022, was announced in May, and then didn’t ship until July.
Verizon’s Visible Added a Sweet New Visible+ Plan
From the day it launched back in 2018, Verizon’s Visible has had a single plan that costs just $40/mo. Visible has continued to update and upgrade the plan over the years, but that price has always stuck and it remained the only plan option for those looking at Verizon’s “all-digital wireless carrier.” Today, Visible is making a big move – we now have 2 plans.
Visible announced today that they offer two plans: Visible and Visible+. Visible is a similar offering to the old Visible plan, only now it costs $30/mo instead of $40. For Visible+, a couple of additional features and upgrades will cost you $45/mo.
So what are the differences between Visible and Visible+? I have the visual breakdown for you below, but the basics are that the regular Visible plan is going to be for those who don’t need a super speedy 5G experience and who don’t travel outside of the US much. The only network access you get is on 5G nationwide and LTE, where your connection could be slowed if in heavy trafficked areas. It still has talk and text to Mexico and Canada.
The Visible+ plan adds unlimited calling and texting to Canada and Mexico, roaming use when in those two countries, calling from the US to 30+ other countries, texting to 200+ countries, and premium 5G connections. The “Premium Network Experience” from Visible+ means access to 5G Ultra Wideband (both mmW and C-Band) from Verizon’s network in an unlimited capacity. When on the 5G Nationwide of LTE networks, you’ll get 50GB of data to use before possibly being slowed.
Both plans also offer unlimited mobile hotspot with a 5Mbps speed cap and Spam Protection.
Visible vs. Visible+ Plans
Taxes and fees are included in both prices on these plans, so you’ll pay $30 or $45 each month. Both plans are also live right away, in case you want to sign-up. Visible supports eSIM now as well, so if you were interested in trying them, you can do so without a physical SIM card.
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