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.
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.
Before smartphone makers switched to edge-to-edge, nearly bezel-less designs, we had a small transition. Some smartphones rounded-off the corners of their rectangular screens to emulate the high-end look. In many cases, these phones actually just had square displays, and the effect was done in software, or via masking in the front glass. That includes the Pixel 3a. And unfortunately for folks that own one, that software masking broke at the end of last year.
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.
January patches for Google's Pixels are now live, together with a decent set of functional patch notes. Outside your usual security improvements, that means Pixel owners can also look forward to a handful of fixes, including some sound fixes for the Pixel 5 and 4a 5G, better automatic brightness on this year's phones, plus call improvements on certain MVNOs, and auto-rotation improvements across the whole currently supported Pixel lineup — no longer including the Pixel 2.
The Pixel 4a is Google's newest budget hotness, but the year-old 3a is still a great little phone. It's been officially discontinued, but it's still getting software support — and will until at least spring of 2022. And right now, you can get it for an exceedingly fair price: just $239 for the standard model or $299 for the 3a XL.
November updates are rolling out now for Google's Pixels, and that includes the brand-new Pixel 5 and 4a 5G. Functional patch notes mention a whole pile of fixes for both new phones, as well as older Pixels. That includes fixes for the screen waking at certain times when it shouldn't, inadvertently hidden system navigation during full-screen playback, issues with ringer audio for starred contacts in DND mode, and resolutions for a handful of Android Auto bugs. As expected, the Pixel 2 and 2 XL have no update this month.
Google tends to play it safe when it comes to the design of its Pixel lineup, but that doesn't mean Pixel owners have to settle for a boring look. While most folks wouldn't consider Google's hardware design very exciting, there's no denying that the company's official fabric cases look a lot more fetching. And right now, the Google Store is offering 50% off Pixel 4 and Pixel 3a fabric cases, dropping the price to just $20.
This story was originally published and last updated .
The Pixel 3a was our phone of the year in 2019, and for a lot of very good reasons. At $400, it offered a camera experience that many phones costing twice as much couldn't, and an update policy no other Android OEM could match. With the Pixel 4a, then, Google had a lot to live up to, and we weren't sure they could outdo the 3a without compromising on price (and you should read our review of it). It turns out, we were wrong: the 4a makes a few notable changes to the formula Google introduced with the 3a, but their collective impact results in an objectively better smartphone at a lower price.