Google may have pushed back the Android 11 beta launch again, but it still has some new features for Pixel phone users. The company is announcing a set of updates today that promise to extend battery life, improve your sleep and give more people access to safety tools during emergencies.
The most timely of these is the rollout of the Pixel 4’s Personal Safety app to all Pixel devices. The existing version of the app will let you share medical information with first responders, set emergency contacts and send a short message with your current location to them. On a Pixel 4 and Pixel 3, the system will be able to detect when you’ve been in a car crash and alert emergency services in your area. Those are the only two devices compatible with this feature for now.
Google is also adding a Safety Check tool that lets you schedule a check-in from the app at a later time. So say you’re attending a peaceful protest (or a solo hike or run) — you can set a check for three hours later. If you don’t respond at the scheduled time, the app will alert your emergency contacts.
Another update that could come in useful in fraught situations is the new integration between the Recorder app and Google services like Assistant and Docs. When you need to start a voice note in a hurry, you can now just tell your device “Hey Google, start recording my meeting.” You can also use this to look for transcripts by asking “Hey Google, show me transcripts about dogs.” When you need to share a transcript with someone, you can now export it to Google Docs. Since the Recorder app performs its transcriptions on-device, instead of relying on cloud processing like similar services like Otter.ai, its documents used to be hard to access as they were saved to the app on your phone. This update should make it easier to copy and paste quotes for use in articles or even when dictating project proposals.
We always welcome features that can squeeze more juice out of our phones, especially given the Pixels’ notoriously short battery lives. With this update, Google is enhancing its existing Adaptive Battery feature, which learns your favorite apps to cut power consumption by those you rarely use. The new version on Pixel 2 and newer devices will predict when you’ll run out of battery and further reduce background activity so get even more runtime.
When it’s finally time to rest, the new Bedtime feature should help. It’s a page in the Clock app that lets you set your daily sleep and wake times, and displays information like upcoming calendar events and what apps you typically stay up past your bedtime to use. You can have the Pixel play you calming sounds before you go to bed and limit interruptions overnight. A sunrise alarm feature lets you wake up to a track of your choice or a gradually brightening display.
Google is also adding a few new Pride-themed wallpapers and ringtones created by LGBTQ+ artists, as well as a new AR filter for Duo video calls. The rollout appears to be slated for the immediate future, though the company said in a statement that users should check out the Pixel forum to see when these updates will land on their phones.
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