Ever since the Nokia N95, my phone has always been my main camera. I've bought point and shoots, mirrorless/DSLRs, several 360 cams, but nothing beats the simplicity of pulling out the device that's already in my pocket, tapping a few on-screen buttons, and snapping the photo I want. On big occasions, I'll make the effort to take my Olympus mirrorless with me, but smartphones — especially Pixels — have gotten so good that I still revert to them when I'm in an especially challenging situation. This often happens in cathedrals and other half-dark half-brightly lit places where capturing the image that's in my head would require a level of cam-manipulation and post-processing knowledge that I don't have.
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.
This story was originally published and last updated .
Free backups to Google Photos have been one of the nicest perks of the Pixel line-up, but the benefits have certainly dwindled with time. The original Pixel got unlimited original quality backups, the Pixel 2 and 3 dropped that to three years, and everything from the 3a to the 5 has only had free high quality (i.e. slightly compressed) backups. We're here to talk about the Pixel 2, though, as the three-year timespan has nearly elapsed and that perk is expiring today.
Back in October, Google confirmed to us that the Pixel 2 and 2 XL were only promised one last wrap-up security patch, having reached the end of the three-year update promise. At the time, we were told it would roll out in December, though yesterday's updates landed without including the Pixel 2 series. But a few hours ago, these likely last images were posted for download, and we expect the update to start rolling out in the more traditional sense soon.
Most people upgrade phones every 2-3 years, a schedule that's often dictated by carrier promotions and on-contract deals. While our readers likely buck that trend, Pixel owners hanging onto the same model for the last 2-3 years are probably considering upgrading. In the case of the Pixel 2 and 2 XL, there's not much choice — it's that or stick with a phone that's less and less secure with each passing month. So is the Pixel 5 a worthy upgrade? For some of our readers, it might be, especially if they waited out the Pixel 4, as we generally recommended.
Google has confirmed to us that the Pixel 2 and 2 XL will get their last update this December. While the October update released today was the last guaranteed by the company's original calendar commitment, we are told that Google is promising one last update that includes a final set of critical fixes, following a trend it set last year with the original 2016 Pixels.
Pixel phones are renowned for stellar photography — when the camera app is workingcorrectly. Pixel 2 owners, in particular, have complained about camera failures for a long time. We reported on it at the start of 2020, in fact. But even though the worst of this year is hopefully behind us, Pixel 2 users are still having camera problems — and things might be getting worse.
Google's monthly Pixel software update is now rolling out, including June 2020's security patches and changes announced as part of this quarter's Pixel Feature Drop. The OTA should be rolling out in the traditional sense shortly, but in the meantime, you can sideload the update yourself, or peruse the huge list of Pixel functional patches — they're almost all just fixes, but there's a ton of them.
Google's third Pixel Feature Drop update has been announced with a handful of new features and tweaks for the company's line of phones. While we might yet find more minor changes hiding inside when it rolls out, we're told there are four broad categories of new features Pixel owners can look forward to: New Adaptive Battery tweaks to stretch out battery life, Recorder app integration with the Google Assistant and Google Docs, tools to better manage your sleep, and new personal safety features including crisis alerts and a "safety check" feature that notifies emergency contacts if you don't respond to a scheduled check-in.
May security patches for Google's Pixels are now available, though Samsung beat Google to the punch this month. For some reason, Google has elected not to publish functional patch notes for its Pixels as part of this month's updates, but images are available and the update should be rolling out via traditional channels soon.