Why you can trust ZDNET : ZDNET independently tests and researches products to bring you our best recommendations and advice. When you buy through our links, we may earn a commission. Our process

'ZDNET Recommends': What exactly does it mean?

ZDNET's recommendations are based on many hours of testing, research, and comparison shopping. We gather data from the best available sources, including vendor and retailer listings as well as other relevant and independent reviews sites. And we pore over customer reviews to find out what matters to real people who already own and use the products and services we’re assessing.

When you click through from our site to a retailer and buy a product or service, we may earn affiliate commissions. This helps support our work, but does not affect what we cover or how, and it does not affect the price you pay. Neither ZDNET nor the author are compensated for these independent reviews. Indeed, we follow strict guidelines that ensure our editorial content is never influenced by advertisers.

ZDNET's editorial team writes on behalf of you, our reader. Our goal is to deliver the most accurate information and the most knowledgeable advice possible in order to help you make smarter buying decisions on tech gear and a wide array of products and services. Our editors thoroughly review and fact-check every article to ensure that our content meets the highest standards. If we have made an error or published misleading information, we will correct or clarify the article. If you see inaccuracies in our content, please report the mistake via this form.


New Pixel feature drop delivers 10 exciting upgrades to Google's phone and watch

Google's next-gen call screening is here, older devices get Circle to Search, and watch wearers get new workout modes. Here's what else you can expect.
Written by Artie Beaty, Contributing Writer
The Mint Pixel 8 in front of a green plant.
Max Buondonno/ZDNET

Google has announced its latest feature drop for Pixel phones and watches, and it brings some pretty big additions to the lineup. 

Phones are getting better video and photos for Instagram, some older devices are getting Circle to Search, and a new next-gen Call Screen is coming to the US. 

Also: Google brings back 360-degree Photo Sphere mode

Pixel watches are also getting a fair bit of attention, with Google adding a new pace trainer and heart zone trainer, plus automatic workout detection, and a way to wind down once your workout is done.  

The update will be available for all supported Pixel phones, tablets, and smartwatches. It starts rolling out on March 11 in the US, and March 4 for the rest of the world.

Here's what you can expect.

New to Pixel phones in March

  • 10-bit HDR video and Ultra HDR photos for Instagram: Want your social media to look its best? You can now share 10-bit HDR video and Ultra HDR photos, both of which provide brighter colors, better intensity, and higher contrast, Google says, straight to Instagram. These features are coming to the Pixel 7 series, the Pixel 8 series, and the Pixel Fold.

  • Circle to Search: After coming to the Pixel 8 series last month, Circle to Search is now headed to the Pixel 7 series. By long-pressing on the home button, you can draw a circle around an image, highlight it, or tap an image to find out more.

  • Next-gen Call Screen: You can now use Call Screen to get a conversation started when the other person is silent. If you answer a call and the other side isn't saying anything, tap the "hello" button to start a clip that asks why they're calling. Also, if you answer a call with your screener, but need an extra second to pick up, Assistant will now let the other person know to hang on a moment. This feature will be available on Pixel Fold, Pixel 6, and newer phones only in English in the U.S.

  • App screen sharing: Want to share your screen without sharing too much information? On the Pixel Tablet, Pixel Fold, Pixel 5a, and newer phones, you now have the option to choose one specific app to cast or present, instead of sharing everything.

  • FastPair subsequent pairing: If you often switch between Bluetooth devices, you'll now find connecting to the device you want a little easier. Tap on "Previously used with Account" on your connected devices settings page, and connections you've previously made are shown. You'll find this feature on the Pixel 5a and newer, Pixel Fold, and Pixel Tablet

Also: 5 essential Pixel Watch 2 features for better health and fitness

New to Pixel watches in March

  • Pace training: Want to make sure you're staying on pace? The Pixel Watch and Pixel Watch 2 now have the ability to track whether you're in your target range during an exercise. Thanks to the onboard GPS and power-optimized motion sensors, your stats will show up directly on your screen and you'll be notified when you fall outside your target.

  • Heart zone training: With both the original Pixel Watch and new Pixel Watch 2, you can now track the time you spend in each of your heart rate zones. Based on your resting heart rate and your fitness level, your watch will guide you and help optimize your workout. Personal targets can be set, and haptic notifications and voice cues will alert you when you move from one zone to another.

  • Auto workout mode: One of the Pixel Watch 2's workout features is automatic detection when you begin running, walking, using an elliptical machine, spin bike, or outdoor bike, running on a treadmill, or rowing. That feature is now coming to the first-generation Pixel Watch.

  • Relax app: If you're using the FitBit Relax app on either the Pixel Watch or Pixel Watch 2, you can get guided breathing exercises to wind down.

  • Transit directions: Trying to navigate an unfamiliar area? You can now get public transit directions on your Pixel Watch. You can view different transit options, see real-time departures, and follow a compass-enabled map view to find your way. This feature will be on any watch with Wear OS 3+.

Editorial standards