The December Pixel Feature Drop includes Clear Calling, a free VPN, and new sign-up tools for Google’s latest phones

Believe it or not, it’s been four months since Android 13 fell into our arms, bringing increased stability and several improvements to phones everywhere. If you’ve been keeping a close eye on this calendar, you know that Pixel owners also deserve a new Drop Drop feature, the first since the arrival of the Pixel 7 series. If you happen to pick up one of Google’s latest smartphones on sale during Black Friday, you’re in luck — you’re about to get List of new features to try.

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There’s nothing new in today’s announcement, but Pixel fans should get excited that some long-awaited options are finally here. Let’s start with what will happen to the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, as the bulk of these changes are for those phones. Clear Calling is finally coming, just three months after we first glimpsed it. It’s designed to work like noise reduction on the Pixel Buds Pro, cutting out background sounds like wind and traffic while you’re on a call. During the October event, Google promised that it would arrive in the Drop Drop feature sometime in 2022, and here we are.

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It’s not the only Pixel 7-focused widget that ships with today’s update. As we saw last week, Google One’s VPN is now live at no additional cost to anyone rocking one of the company’s latest smartphones, and today, that plan is official. When active, Google’s VPN should help keep your browsing habits more secure, even when you’re connected to the local coffee shop’s Wi-Fi. Obviously, anyone looking to bypass streaming geo-restrictions might want to rely on a third-party app, but for basic security, this should get the job done.

The recorder also gets loudspeaker labels when multiple sounds are detected, something I couldn’t be more excited about. I’ve come to rely on Recorder more than ever when conducting practicums or on-site interviews – live transcriptions are a must – and now, it’s smarter than ever.

It’s all limited to Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro users, at least for now. Clear Calling is planned to come to other Tensor-powered smartphones, though it’s unclear when exactly that will happen.

However, those older pixels aren’t left out of the fun. Google is finally introducing the common Security and Privacy Center we saw in the early days of Android 13 beta, making it easier to find and view key information on a single page. Cough and snoring detection and live chat translation are now available in new regions with additional language support, just as Pixel continues to build its international brand.

And just in time for the month of December, there are new wallpapers for the International Day of Persons with Disabilities here in the Curated Culture section. Google has done an excellent job of routinely dropping new wallpapers, and this month is no exception.

Of course, Drop Drop today also ropes in the Pixel Watch, marking the first time a wearable has been included in Google’s quarterly updates. All that, plus the December security patch — and a little excitement for what’s coming next.

Although it wasn’t ready for today’s release, spatial audio support is coming to the Pixel in January. Google seems to be associating its new approach to surround sound with the Pixel Buds Pro, so we’ll have to wait and see if the official launch brings it to more than just one pair of earphones. In the meantime, the feature drop for December is rolling out today, so grab a supported phone — that’s a Pixel 4a or later — and start hitting that update button.

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