Google Pixel Feature Drop Adds Instagram HDR, Enhanced Call Screening And More

pixel 8 pro
The time has come for yet another Google Pixel Feature Drop, bringing new tools and experiences to Google's family of devices. While most of the goodies are naturally limited to Pixel hardware, a few of the new features are expanding to Pixel after debuting elsewhere, and some will flow from Pixel to other phones in the coming weeks.

The Pixel lineup has always emphasized photography, so you won't be surprised that some of the top-billed features are in that arena (just like almost every Feature Drop). HDR images from Pixel phones will now retain their ultra-lush colors when sharing to Instagram. The Pixel 7, Pixel 7 Pro, Pixel 8, Pixel 8 Pro, and Pixel Fold can all share HDR 10-bit videos to Instagram Reels, and Ultra HDR photos can be uploaded to your Instagram feed. Google isn't alone here—the OnePlus 12 supports Pro XDR photos in Instagram.
Pixel%208 Call%20Screen%20Update
The Pixel Call Screen will now be able to urge callers to speak up.

Call Screen, one of the premiere Pixel features, is getting an upgrade, too. On the Pixel 6 and newer, Call Screen will have a new "Hello" button you can tap while screening a call. This will prompt the robot to ask the caller to speak up, and if you can't answer right away, Assistant can tell the caller to wait a bit longer. The Pixel 7 will also get Circle to Search, a feature that debuted as part of Galaxy AI on the S24 family, but was later added to the Pixel 8.

On the wearable side of things, Google's first-gen Pixel Watch is getting a feature it ought to have had from the start. The automatic workout detection from the second-gen watch is being backported to the original. Following the update, it will be able to detect and log running, walking, elliptical, spinning, outdoor bike, treadmill, and rowing. The original Pixel Watch will also get pace training, heart zone training, and the Fitbit Relax app in the update.

GooglePixelWatches PaceTraining HeartZoneTraining
Pace training on the original Pixel Watch.

Getting connected will be easier on Pixels, too. This update brings App Screen Sharing to devices from the Pixel 5a onward, allowing you to share a single app when casting your screen for added privacy. That same collection of Google devices will also get clearer Fast Pair options. Going forward, Bluetooth accessories connected to your account on previous devices will appear in your connection list for easier setup.

Google has a handful of other feature updates that venture beyond the Pixel family. Google says Google Maps on WearOS is getting public transit direction support, and it's reaching way back to WearOS 3 for this one. That means almost all Android smartwatches from the last few years will have the updated Maps app soon. All Android 8 and higher tablets will soon have handwriting annotation in Google Docs, and tablets with Gboard v13.9 or later will have a redesigned voice toolbar.

The option to share just one app instead of the entire screen will help preserve your privacy.

It can take a couple of days for the OTA to reach all devices, but Google does post the OTA files on its developer site. If you don't mind a little tinkering, you should be able to get the new software on your Pixel devices within the day.