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Google's first Pixel feature drop of 2023 is official. Here's what's new

Your Pixel phone and Pixel Watch are gaining new features with the first feature drop of the year.
Written by Jason Cipriani, Contributing Writer
Google Pixel 7 in hand.
June Wan/ZDNET

Google on Monday announced that its first Pixel feature drop of 2023 is starting to roll out for Pixel phones and the Pixel Watch

Google's Pixel phone line is benefiting the most from the feature drop, with the Android maker bringing a handful of features to older Pixel models that have been exclusive to newer Pixel models. For example, the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro will have the same improved speed of the Pixel 7's Night Sight low-light camera mode. 

Also: Is your Pixel phone battery draining faster than it should? This feature can help

Google already announced its Magic Eraser feature -- which you can use to remove unwanted objects or people from a photo -- is expanding to Google One subscribers, regardless of which phone they're using. Part of that same announcement was that Google has made Magic Eraser available to all Pixel users, with or without a One subscription. 

New Pixel feature screenshots

Direct My Call, a feature that helps you navigate phone trees when calling toll-free numbers, is now available on the Pixel 4a or newer. You'll also begin to see any timers you've set on Pixel device show up across all of your Pixel devices. For instance, if you set a timer on a Nest Hub, it'll show up on your Pixel phone, as well. 

Also: The 4 best Pixel phones 

Additionally, Health Connect, Google's app to help you manage your private data with compatible health and fitness apps, is included with the latest Pixel update. Previously the app was in beta and had to be downloaded on its own. 

The feature drop is part of Google's March Pixel update, so you'll need to download and install the latest system update, and update your apps in the Play Store in order to access the new features and capabilities. 

Fall detection notification on Pixel Watch

Technically, the Pixel Watch update that includes Fall Detection started to roll out at the end of February. However, Google is considering that update as part of a broader feature drop for the entire Pixel hardware line. Fall Detection on the Pixel Watch will monitor for hard falls, and when one is detected, ask if you're OK. If there's no response, or you indicate you need help, the watch will call emergency services for you. 

Also: Google's Pixel Watch can now detect if you fall: How to turn it on

In order to have access to Fall Detection, make sure your Pixel Watch is up to date by opening the Settings app on the watch itself, then System > System updates. You'll want to have your watch on its charger in order to complete the update. Additionally, you'll want to make sure all of the apps installed on your watch are updated -- you can do this by opening the Play Store app on the watch and managing your apps. 

While not part of the feature drop, Google's high-end wireless earbuds, the Pixel Buds Pro, recently received a firmware update to enable Spatial Audio -- a feature that adds movement and depth to audio, such as when watching a movie or TV show or listening to compatible songs. 

Review: Google Pixel Buds Pro: AirPods Pro, but for Android

The update started to roll out in early March to Pixel Bud Pro owners who have a Pixel 6 or Pixel 7 phone. You'll need to update your Buds Pro to firmware version 4.3 before Spatial Audio and head tracking is available.

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