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Exciting Updates for Pixel Phones: January Feature Drop Introduces Circle to Search, Magic Compose, and Other New Features

Pixel phone users are in for a treat with the first Pixel feature drop of 2024. While certain features are reserved exclusively for the Pixel 8 series, others will be accessible to older Pixel devices, too.

In the latest feature drop, Google introduces the new Circle to Search feature, first shown during Samsung’s Galaxy S24 revealing, to both the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro. Scheduled to go live on January 31st, coinciding with the release date of Samsung’s S24 series, this feature allows users to circle anything on their phone screen with a long press of the home button or navigation bar, prompting Google to provide more information about the highlighted content.

Additionally, in this feature drop, the Pixel 8 Pro’s built-in thermometer finally becomes more practical. Users can now use it to measure their own or someone else’s body temperature. Described by Google as “medical-grade,” it strongly suggests that the company has obtained some level of FDA clearance to enable the thermometer for this purpose.

Older Pixels are also receiving updates with new features. The Pixel 6 and Pixel 7, as well as the Pixel 8, will now have access to Magic Compose. This feature allows users to rewrite a drafted message in different styles with the assistance of AI. While this processing happens on-device for the Pixel 8 Pro, other Pixel models will use the cloud to enhance their messages, giving them a professional tone or making them more dramatic or even lyrical.

In addition, this feature drop also introduces the rebranding of Nearby Share to the simplified Quick Share branding, now shared by both Google and Samsung. Despite the name change, the functionality remains unchanged: Quick Share still allows users to send content to nearby Android, ChromeOS, and Windows devices that support the feature.

Google also announced it is adding automatic audio switching to the Pixel Watch. With this feature, you can seamlessly switch your Pixel Buds Pro from your Pixel Watch to your Pixel phone or tablet. Additionally, you’ll receive helpful notifications showing where your audio is transitioning to, improving the overall user experience.

Finally, Google introduced “Photomoji” to its Messages app, expanding its availability from the beta tester program to the public. This feature allows users to transform a photo into a reaction by simply selecting an image from the media picker and hitting Create.

As usual, these feature drops for Pixel phones are set to kick off, with some lucky Pixel hardware owners getting an early taste as early as Thursday. The rest can expect to enjoy the latest features over the next few weeks.

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