Some Pixel owners have noticed over the last couple of monthly updates that their phones have lost Widevine L1 status, falling to L3 and rendering them incapable of playing back some DRM-protected content at high quality. More simply, that means they can't play HD content in apps and services like Netflix. By far the majority of devices are not affected and the cause isn't immediately clear. Google tells us it's aware of these reports and working on a fix, and devices from other manufactures may also be affected.
Google's Pixel updates for April are here. This isn't one of the big feature drop updates (that was last month), but device owners can look forward to the latest security patches and a handful of fixes and improvements. This time around, Google specifically calls out improved photo quality in some third-party apps and even GPU performance improvements for on the Pixel 4a 5G and Pixel 5, plus a handful of fixes addressing issues on several Pixel models, including a problem that dates back to a missing December Feature Drop feature.
Out with the old, in with the new: LineageOS cut support for Android 9 Pie earlier this year, and to make up for the loss, the open-source project has just released version 18.1 based on Android 11. It comes with official support for about 60 phones and tablets.
Despite its long-standing acclaim as the keyboard app to beat on Android, SwiftKey hasn’t played nice with Google’s own Pixel 4 and 4 XL since back when they launched in 2019. The handy swipe-to-delete gesture has been broken on the two phones for over a year, and it's only now that the app is gearing up to patch it. If the latest update to SwiftKey beta is any indication, a proper fix for the issue is just around the corner.
Google's ARCore SDK allows phones to place virtual objects in mixed reality situations using their processors, motion sensors, light sensors, and, yes, their camera. However, even with the proliferation of quadruple rear camera phones, ARCore has only been able to use one of them. But soon enough, it'll work with two cameras on a couple of choice devices.
Following Verizon's early teasing, Google has just released details about the March 2021 Feature Drop update, which should be rolling out today. Pixel owners can look forward to enhanced underwater photography when paired with a specific case, expanded Smart Compose support for some messaging apps, a snazzy new bedtime screen when using the Pixel Stand and Clock app, and wallpapers for International Women's Day. On top of that, Google promises more fixes for Android Auto disconnection issues.
Google bundles a lot of clever software features with its Pixel phones, including Call Screen, Adaptive Sound, and car crash detection. One Missouri man is particularly thankful for that last feature. Late last year, Chuck Walker found himself injured and trapped in an overturned Bobcat loader. According to the story he shared on Reddit this week, his Pixel 4 XL managed to detect the accident and ring emergency services, thus saving him from a very lengthy and unpleasant stay.
The Google Camera app, an exclusive to the company's Pixel phones, has seen a spate of one-star reviews on the Play Store recently. In fact, its overall rating has declined over the last year and a half from 3.8 stars to 3.3, and details in the bulk of complaints may indicate that the well-known Pixel camera curse is spreading to affect more devices. However, Google tells us there aren't any known app or software issues related to the problem, implying the apparent increase in customer complaints is due to hardware damage.
February 2021 updates for Google's Pixels from the 3 series to the 5 are landing today. On top of your regularly scheduled security patches, Pixel owners can also look forward to two other changes: A fix for the Pixel 4a 5G's touchscreen issue (which apparently extends to the Pixel 5 as well), and an undefined "fix for issue preventing certain sensor detection on startup," which could be tied to the long-standing Pixel device sensor issue.