The folks at 9to5Google have spotted some details hidden in an APK teardown that imply we'll be getting our second Pixel Feature Drop in March. Other information found hidden inside the examined app reveals a handful of features we might see land as part of the update, including scheduling for dark mode, a new "Cards & Passes" power key menu, the play/pause Motion Sense gesture, and a rollout of car crash detection to older Pixels. And given Google's usual first Monday of the month release cadence, that means we could be seeing the next Pixel Feature Drop update as soon as next week.
In case you aren't familiar, the Pixel Feature Drops are Google's new plan for big quarterly updates that deliver piles of new features to its line of Pixel devices. Rather than wait for major updates, you get a steady drip of new functionality. The last one (which was also the first one) was back in December. Hopefully, the rollout in March is a little less slow than last time.
Several of these features we have already seen debut in the recently released Android 11 Developer Preview. The dark mode scheduling and play/pause Motion Sense gesture both appeared as part of the release, and we assume the behavior will be similar based on the details revealed so far. (You can see our prior coverage of both for an idea of what to expect.) We also noticed substantial improvements with Motion Sense's general responsiveness in Android 11, so hopefully, some of those benefits will also land together with the Feature Drop update.
Motion Sense was much more reliable in Android 11. Also, note the new "dip" gesture for play/pause.
Cards & Passes is something we know has been planned for Android since last year. It's been under active development for quite some time, and though it first showed up all the way back in Android Q, Google has kept the feature hidden/disabled since then.
Car crash detection was initially a Pixel 4 exclusive feature, but the version of the app that rolled out with Android 11 was able to be manually installed on older Pixels, where it would also work. At the time, we thought it was possible the Android 11 release simply had a dogfooded version of the app, with the wider compatibility being an oversight on Google's part, but the details revealed in the teardown imply we'll see a broader rollout to older Pixels as part of this upcoming update.
Of course, teardowns being teardowns (as we know all too well here at Android Police from our own), some of these details may be red herrings, with feature debuts planned for a later date. But seeing all these changes occur in such close proximity to the clear signs of a March release for the next Pixel Feature Drop is almost certainly more than coincidence. We'll know by next Monday — or, at the latest, the Monday following.