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5 reasons you should update your Google Pixel phone ASAP

Even if these cool new AI features don't arouse you, apply the update anyway to get those all-important bug fixes and security patches.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
The display on the Mint Pixel 8 on top of a green notebook.
Max Buondonno/ZDNET

If you're an owner of a Pixel Phone, then you're probably aware that Google has big plans to start infusing these devices with even more artificial intelligence. Well, the wait is almost over as the next Feature Drop will include a variety of AI helpfulness.

Also: The best Google Pixel phones (including the Pixel 8 Pro)

Of course, the Feature Drop will include not only several new features but also the usual bug fixes and security patches. As per my usual advice, apply this update as soon as it becomes available. You do not want to fall behind on your security patches in this day of constant cybersecurity attacks, otherwise, your data could wind up in the wrong hands.

But what about those new features? 

Taking your temp

The Pixel line of phones already received a thermometer app to go along with Android 14. However, missing from that app was the ability to take your own temperature. You could measure food and organic material, beverages and water, cast iron, ceramic and glass, metal, plastic and rubber, fabric, wood, and walls and windows.

Also: How to use the Pixel 8 Pro thermometer for accurate temperature reading

But there was no option to measure the temperature of humans. With the new Feature Drop, you'll be able to select this option and, using your phone, scan your forehead (or someone else's forehead) to get an accurate reading. This update will also allow you to save the results to your Fitbit profile for a deeper understanding of your health.

Circle to Search

The new Feature Drop will include a handy, AI-driven search method that allows you to simply draw a circle around an image, text, or video and Google will then automatically run a search for it. This means you won't have to switch between apps to run a search or even bother typing to make use of Google searching.

Also: Google's Smart Search now showing up on more Android phones


For those who like to respond with emoji, this new update will allow you to transform your favorite photos into reactions that can be used in Messages and other apps. This feature is powered by on-device AI, so it should work both quickly and seamlessly.

Magic Compose

Google Messages is getting a big AI bump with the help of Magic Compose. This is where the AI rubber really meets the road: Google wants to help you craft responses to your messages, courtesy of generative AI. The idea behind this is to add a "spark of personality" to your conversations. Magic Compose will offer suggested responses based on the context of your messages and even transform what you write into different styles (even Shakespeare). 

Magic Compose rolled out as a beta last year and is already available if you've joined the Messages beta program. How it works is simple: Type your message and then tap the pen icon. Select the style you want to use for your message and then select the option you want to send. I've tried it and it's pretty fun. 

The Magic Compose feature in Google Messages.

Testing the Magic Compose feature in the beta version of Messages with some Billy Shakes.

Screenshot by Jack Wallen/ZDNET

New Pixel 8 colorway

If you haven't already purchased a Pixel 8 phone, Google will be releasing a new Mint colorway for both the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro

Also: Why Google's cheaper Pixel 8 is the real star of its Android phone lineup

The upcoming Feature Drop should happen any time soon. Be on the lookout for it and make sure to apply as soon as it appears. Even if these new features don't excite you, you'll at least get the latest security patches and app updates.

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