Pixel feature drop for March 2024: Top new features [Video]

Google's latest Pixel Features Drop for March 2024 is now available, bringing a host of exciting new features and improvements to your favorite Pixel device. Let's dive in and see what's new!

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Given the somewhat confusing QPR or quarterly platform release phase, the “regular” feature drop has more than a few notable additions. If you signed up for QPR Beta, this won't be new to you but it's still new to everyone. There's a lot of new features here if you haven't already joined our beta coverage – so get ready…

The Pixel Call screen has become more interactive

Unsolicited calls? no more! The Pixel's calling screen just got a little smarter with new options to deter unwanted calls. For example, if the line goes quiet when you accept a call, there is an option that gives you a “Hello?” A button to ask the caller to answer. One of the main benefits of this is that it can save you from unwanted calls or annoying sales pitches.

Google has also added another sensible AI-powered response that will let you tap to tell the caller “I'll be right there.” If you want to speak to the person who called, this may buy you some time if you are detained or perhaps unable to speak at that moment. Your phone will respond to the caller “One second, check who you called” – which sounds more human and is similar to the way a receptionist or personal assistant would deal with an unwanted caller.

Faster pairing of headphones

Fast Pair just got faster with the March 2024 release of features and Android 14 QPR2. Now, any Bluetooth headphones or accessories saved to your Google Account will be conveniently listed under “Previously used with account” in Settings, making reconnecting and checking battery status a breeze.

You can tap once on the Bluetooth QS panel and this will also list these recently used or saved devices. It's not just for headphones, so it's great for quick switching and saving digging into menus to connect.

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High-quality Instagram uploads for Pixel 7, 8, and Pixel Fold

If you use Instagram a lot, iOS users don't have to be jealous anymore, as Pixel 7, 7 Pro, Fold, 8, and 8 Pro users can now also upload stunning Ultra HDR photos to Instagram and vibrant 10-bit HDR video to reels.

Ultra HDR images enhance the brightness of the lighter parts of images and – in theory – should get more vibrant colors compared to a regular HDR+ image. When you watch Ultra HDR video, it looks very bright on your screen. This means that when you browse you will instantly know what type of content was captured using this recording mode.

Just remember to enable both settings in the Pixel Camera app by heading to Camera Settings > Advanced > Ultra HDR.

The search circle is expanding

The research circuit is not technically new. It was released for the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro a few weeks ago, but is now available for the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro with the features dropping in March 2024. Unfortunately, Google has ruled out the Pixel Fold, at least for now. This may not be useful for everyone and you need to enable the search circle, but it is a neat option that may replace reverse image search for many people just for convenience.

Improve typing on Pixel Tablet

The Pixel Tablet has a new Gboard Voice toolbar that provides quick access to emoji and settings while using speech-to-text. It's an additional option that makes more visual sense on larger-screen devices like Google's first-party tablets.

When active, the full keyboard is minimized and a disc-shaped toolbar appears instead. This smaller section includes a button to return the keyboard, the emoji mini keyboard shortcut, a full menu for accessing settings, and a voice dictation button for Assistant. You can move this toolbar anywhere on the screen so it never gets in the way of the content.

Upgrades for first-generation Pixel Watch + more

The first-generation Pixel Watch is getting some serious, overdue love with the Pixel Features Drop in March 2024. A few of the apps that came with the Pixel Watch 2 are being ported to the back, including Fitbit Relax for guided breathing exercises.

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Google has finally added an automatic workout mode that will activate when you do things like run, ride a bike, or start swimming. One downside in our testing is that it could sometimes take 10 minutes or so to detect outdoor walking with a prompt popping up on the Pixel Watch to notify you once it's detected. You'll still get more accurate tracking if you start the workout manually rather than relying on this option in our experience.

Two other options coming to the 1st Gen Pixel Watch are speed training and cardio zone training modes. Designed to help you improve your overall fitness health. As for regular weight training, I'm not really sold on that option. However, for runners, you can get coaching to improve with guidance on how to maintain pace or track heart health during workouts.

Although announced back at MWC, public transit directions in Google Maps are now available on Wear OS. This was an annoying omission for the Pixel Watch and Wear OS, as navigation would ignore buses, trains, and other public transportation. When you start a route, you will get complete data about the choices to make and the time by which you will reach your destination with this information in mind.

Android 14 QPR2 good stuff

The March 2024 Pixel Features Drop also includes some cool features that make the transition out of Android 14 QPR beta. All of these won't be new to any Pixel fan, but they're still relevant to this specific update:

Record screen or send a single application

Screen recording and casting are more precise with the “One App” option, and a new Quick Settings tile lets you share your Wi-Fi network with a single tap. Additionally, privacy indicators for microphone and camera access now provide a “Close this app” shortcut for better control.

Optic disc

The Pixel's weather lock clock now shows active alarms and Do Not Disturb, while the Pixel Tablet's taskbar highlights app searches in multitasking. App names in the Pixel Launcher grid can now take up two lines, and the various toggles in Settings have been updated to the new Material You style.

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At the bottom of the app info, Android now notes the package name after the build number, while the Force stop icon now resembles a “STOP” sign on the street instead of a warning triangle. There's also an adjustment to the volume slider that gets rid of the linear frame for a rounded, tubular fill that makes little difference to the overall usability of this shared control section.

In Settings > System > Software — which replaces “System Update” — there’s a more user-friendly screen titled “Your Pixel is up to date” which links to the App & Device Management page in the Play Store. In the Material You interface, many of the on/off toggles in the Settings app have been updated to the new style, which is narrower and features a nice check mark icon to indicate that things are all up to date.

Fast sharing via Wi-Fi

Wi-Fi Sharing Option March 2024 Pixel Features Drop

One very small but important addition is the brand new quick settings panel for the Wi-Fi Sharing shortcut. I love this and it makes life easier to connect other devices or people to the network.

Improve privacy controls

Google has also updated the microphone and camera privacy indicators with a “Close this app” shortcut when tapped. To access, open Quick Settings, tap on the green panel in the top right corner and close the app that is violating your privacy.

Hold your horses, America!

There's a slight catch here with the Pixel Features Drop in March 2024: they're scheduled to release in the US on March 11, while the rest of the world gets them early. But hey, at least you know what to expect!

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