Google’s Pixel 7 and 7 Pro have received several new updates, including the free VPN the company announced when it launched the devices in October.
The VPN arrives alongside other perks, like background-noise reduction for phone calls and labels inside Google’s Recorder app for who’s speaking.
It’s another sign that Google intends to keep using exclusive new software features to try to differentiate its Pixel phones from rival devices. If you don’t own a Pixel 7 or 7 Pro, you have to subscribe to the premium tier of Google’s One service to get its VPN. That tier costs $10 per month and also includes 2TB of cloud storage and other extras.
The new software update also brings a feature called Clear Calling, which Google says minimizes background noise and enhances the speaker’s voice during phone calls. When transcribing a recording in Google’s Recorder app, you’ll also be able to see labels for each speaker if multiple people are talking. Like the new VPN, both these features were previously announced and are exclusive to the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro.
These additions will accompany other new features coming to older Pixel devices as well, such as spatial audio when paired with the company’s Pixel Buds Pro. That feature will be available starting in January for the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro in addition to Google’s newest phones. There’s also a new settings hub for security and privacy tools, which is available on the Pixel 4A and newer devices, and new wallpapers themed for the International Day of People with Disabilities, which took place Dec. 3. Those wallpapers will be available for the Pixel 3 and newer devices.
At the same time, Google is also introducing new features for the Pixel Watch, such as Fitbit’s Sleep Profiles feature, as well as new tiles for showing the weather and your contacts. Fall detection, which Google announced during the Pixel Watch’s October launch, is coming in 2023.
Google typically releases new features for Pixel phones through “feature drops” that occur roughly once every few months. Software upgrades like these are particularly important for the Pixel 7 line, since they give Google another way to distinguish its new phones from last year’s Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, in addition to rival Android devices from Samsung, OnePlus, Motorola and others. Though Google introduced a refreshed design, its new Tensor G2 processor and improved cameras on its 2022 phones, the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro are largely incremental upgrades compared to their predecessors.