Google fixed my biggest gripe about the Pixel XL

Android 7.1.1 added two features to the Google Pixel lineup: lift-to-wake and tap-to-wake.
Written by Jason Cipriani, Contributing Writer

Google's Pixel phones are some of the best Android phones money can buy right now. Only Samsung's Galaxy S7 Edge comes close to competing, and until it receives Android Nougat the Pixel has a slight edge (pardon the pun).

That said, Google messed up by releasing the Pixel without any sort of ambient display feature. Meaning, if the Pixel is sitting on a desk or table, you can't quickly see if you have any messages without picking it up and pressing the power button or touching the fingerprint sensor.

Nearly every single Android device released in 2016 has a similar feature, be it tap-to-wake or the ability to wave your hand over the display to wake it up and view alerts.

Yet, the most Android phone of the year shipped without it. I made do using an app called Ambi-Turner and it did a decent job, but it just wasn't the same.

On Monday, Google released Android 7.1.1 for the Pixel and some Nexus devices. While the change log failed to mention any sort of new lock-screen features, buried in the Pixel settings app are two "Moves."

Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

First on the list is "Double-tap to check phone" and it works just as the name implies. With your Pixel screen turned off, double-tap on the display to wake it and view the time, along with any pending notifications.

Jason Cipriani/ZDNet

The second new feature is called "Lift to check phone" and, again, it works just as the name states. Any time you lift the Pixel -- be it out of a pocket, purse, or off of a desk -- the screen will wake to display the time and any pending notifications.

Neither feature is revolutionary. Google, for whatever reason, opted to launch the Pixel without a pair of standard Android features. However, this update shows that Google (and Verizon) are truly committed to providing timely updates to the Pixel line, just as the companies promised when the phone first launched.

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