December is turning out to be an excellent month for people who bought brand-new Pixel smartphones. Less than a week ago, Google confirmed the rollout of its 2022 Holiday Update — the third such update in three years — for Pixel devices. Among the features that rolled out to Google Pixel phones with this Holiday Update included new additions to Google Photos, a fresh set of emojis, and a revised reading mode option with text-to-speech functionality. Google also rolled out enhancements to the much-talked-about Digital Car Key feature from 2021 — with the latest addition enabling users to share their digital car keys with friends and family. In addition, the 2022 Holiday Update also included feature additions and optimizations to smartwatches running Google's WearOS.
Days after the company rolled out its 2022 Holiday Update to Pixel smartphone users around the globe, Google announced that it is also rolling out the company's promised December Feature Drop to Pixel smartphones. For those unaware, Google had pledged to this feature drop update soon after the launch of the Pixel 7 smartphones two months ago. Besides performance improvements and increased stability, the December 2022 Feature Drop incorporates several new features to Pixel smartphones. The Pixel smartphones that support most of the improvements enabled by the latest feature drop include the Pixel 7, Pixel 7 Pro, Pixel 6a, Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro, Pixel 5a, Pixel 5, and Pixel 4a.
Google Pixel December 2022 feature drop: What's new?
The biggest feature to roll out with the December 2022 feature drop is the opening of Google's VPN (Virtual Private Network) service to Pixel 7 smartphones. For those unaware, Google's VPN service is part of Google One's paid subscription and is available for users who opt for the 2TB plan or higher. Pixel 7 users can, however, enjoy this feature without having to pay a dime. Do note, however, that Google's VPN service is only available in a handful of countries. In addition to the VPN service, Google has also simplified the security and privacy settings option within Android's menu system with an entirely new action card system that notifies users of potential security risks that need to be fixed quickly.
For users hoping to experience better call quality on their Pixel smartphones, the December feature drop does exactly that, thanks to the addition of a new feature called Clear Calling. Enabled by Google's Tensor G2 chip, this feature claims to enhance the caller's voice while also reducing background noise. As you might have guessed, this feature will be restricted to the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro devices. Other feature additions with this update include an improved recorder app that can not only record a conversation — but can identify and label each speaker and insert line breaks as speakers change, updates to the Live Translate feature, and an improved search experience.
In the blog post announcing these features, Google confirmed that it is coming up with another feature drop in January when users could expect the addition of the much-awaited spatial audio feature on their Pixel devices.