Google releases March feature drop for Pixel w/ dark mode scheduling, new emojis, more

Google today officially released its March feature drop for Pixel phone users, arriving after the update was rumored to begin rolling out this month with a number of new features in tow. It also coincides with the release of the March 2020 security patch.

Right off the bat, all compatible Pixel phones are getting dark mode scheduling. This feature has been missing ever since Android 10 was released and dark mode became a thing on Google’s OS. It did make its way to the first beta of Android 11, but as it turns out, it won’t be an exclusive feature of the newer system. Dark mode scheduling works with both sunrise/sunset and custom timers.

The March feature drop is also introducing new emojis. According to Google, emoji on Pixel “now be a more customizable and inclusive thanks to the emoji 12.1 update, with 169 new emoji to represent a wider variation of gender and skin tones, as well as more couple combinations to better reflect the world around us.” Here’s a peek at an example of the new emojis.

Live Caption is also becoming more widely available. With the update, Pixel 2 owners will be able to take advantage of the feature which can show captions for any audio (besides music) playing out of your phone, regardless of whether your volume is turned up.

A pretty cool new feature in this update is the ability to access your Google Pay wallet right from the power menu. Now, on Pixel phones, you can long press the power button and get access to all of the cards you have stored on your device. Because of this, the standard power menu gets shifted down to the bottom of your phone. It’s a much quicker way to pay for something over having to sift through your app drawer looking for the Google Pay icon while standing at a register.

Adding a boarding pass to Google Pay is also much easier. Now, you can take a screenshot of your pass and have the option to add it to Google Pay right in the notification shade. This feature will gradually roll out to Pixel 3, 3a, and 4 users during the month of March.

There’s also a new automation feature called Rules. It doesn’t do much but it lets you tell your phone whether to turn on Bluetooth or switch to silent mode depending on your location.

Finally, as far as Pixel series-wide features go, the March feature drop includes new AR effects in Duo that change based on your facial expressions. They’re basically Animojis but a lot less technical.

Rounding things off, there are a number of Pixel 4 exclusive features thrown in the mix. There’s a new Motion Sense gesture that lets you play and pause music by dipping your hand over your phone (also once believed to be an Android 11-exclusive feature), availability of car crash detection in Australia and the UK, depth collection for selfies to improve Portrait Blur and to create 3D photos for Facebook, improved long press options in the Pixel Launcher, and an update for Adaptive brightness that temporarily increases screen brightness when in extremely bright environments like direct sunlight.

The new features should be rolling out to all Pixel phone owners now running Android 10. I’m still waiting for it to hit my Pixel 4 XL, but follow me on Twitter to find out when it does.

Image: Google

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