Pixel Feature Drop Brings an Exclusive Collaboration with Teenage Engineering

Pixel Feature Drop Brings an Exclusive Collaboration with Teenage Engineering
The Pixel 6 and 6 Pro are getting a bevy of new features this week, just in time for Apple's WWDC. (Photo: Sam Rutherford / Gizmodo)

You have to give Google some credit for timing its latest Pixel feature drop, which includes a collab with Teenage Engineering, to coincide with the start of Apple’s WWDC developer conference.

Starting today, Pixel users are getting a breadth of new features. The software update includes abilities we’ve been waiting for, like virtual vaccination cards and access to Google’s new Real Tone Filters. But perhaps the most exciting part of this latest software update is that it’s also introducing a new app that lets you tap into some Teenage Engineering-style remixing.

Let’s start with what’s fun: Google collaborated with Teenage Engineering to bring Pocket Operator to Pixel users. The Android app lets you shoot video content and then “turn it into fun music and video cut-ups,” says Google. You’ll be able to layer sounds, create patterns, and add visual effects on top of your video. The app is available in the Play Store, and it’s the most exclusive part of this Pixel update. It’s only available for Pixel 5 and newer devices.

A quick look at the interface for the new Teenage Engineering app for Pixel devices.  (Gif: Google)A quick look at the interface for the new Teenage Engineering app for Pixel devices. (Gif: Google)

For everyone else with a Pixel 4 and above, you’ll finally get access to a virtual vaccine card. It’s easy to get registered, and you don’t need an active Google Pay app to use it. However, the feature is available only in select regions, including the U.S., Canada, and Australia. And like a wireless transit payment card, you can only store it on one device at a time.

One of the biggest annoyances of having a Nest Doorbell is that it’s not easy to access the feed when there’s someone at the door! Especially if you don’t have a Google Assistant-led smart display to pop up the preview on. Google has moved the Nest Doorbell video feed to the Lock screen, which will help you figure out if you want to answer the door or not. This feature does require a compatible Nest Doorbell, which includes both the wired Nest Doorbell and battery-powered version.

More accessible features, including Real Tone Filters

The other major part of this update is that Real Tone filters are now available in Google Photos. The company announced the improved skin tone algorithms at Google I/O, which it based on the Monk Skin Tone Scale. You can try it out now in Google Photos. In the edit menu, tap on Filters to access the new features.

Conversation mode is now integrated with Sound Amplifier to make chatting on the phone a little clearer for the hard of hearing. Sound Amplifier will help amplify your voice to the person on the other end of your call and filter out background noises and voices that are not yours. The feature was in beta for a while, and now it’s officially available for Pixel 4 devices and above.

The other little Pixel bits

There are a couple of other little bits that are a part of this feature drop that should help improve the experience of the Pixel overall. If you leave your flashlight on and you don’t realise it, Android will push through a reminder and a quick shortcut to turn it off. Car crash detection has also been expanded to more regions, including Canada, which you can read more about at the link. Live translation in Chat will become available for Traditional Chinese, Dutch, Korean, Thai, and Turkish for the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro.

And there’s good news for Californians already suffering through wildfire season: Air Quality alerts are coming soon, though they’re limited to the U.S., Australia, and India.

The new Pixel update starts rolling out now. You can expect to see it hit your device soon if you’re on a Pixel 4 and above.