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Google rolls out crash detection, location rules for Pixel 4

If you own one of last year’s Google Pixel smartphones, you’re about to get some new features, though we’re not sure if battery life is one of them.

Google’s Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL grabbed attention last year as Google joined the dual camera world, while bundling in some neat features to its flagship phone, making for a perfect showcase to deliver how Android should look and feel. Yet if you thought simply owning the Pixel 4 models as they were last year was all the company had planned for the phone, you might want to think again.

This week, Google has started rolling out more features for Pixel 4 owners, including new augmented reality effects for the people using Google’s Duo chat system.

That’s one of the minor features, though selfies on the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL are improving, with support for more depth control, portraiture blur, and colour pop effects.

Google is also rolling out rules for your ringtones based on WiFi connections, allowing you to set volume levels dependent on where you are. That means if you head to work and automatically log on to the work WiFi, you can set your Pixel to automatically go to vibrate or silent, and when you get home and your phone logs into your specific WiFi, you can switch the sounds back on again.

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More of a major feature is Google’s addition to its Motion Sense feature, which allows you to wave your hand in front of the phone to have it do things. While you probably haven’t seen much use from this idea, Google is rolling out the ability to tap above the phone with a slight wave to have it pause and play music. Depending on if you sit at your desk and listen to music, this could be a godsend, or it could just be a waste of time.

However Google’s crash detection is probably a more interesting feature, using the phone’s sensors to work out if you’ve been involved in an accident, and then using a voice command to trigger a triple zero call to emergency services.

There are also additions to the Pixel launcher, such as how you can hold down on apps and icons to get more choices, as well as adaptive brightness which reportedly ups the brightness if you’re outside, something we’ve seen in other Androids phones at least once before

Oh, and as for the battery power, what is easily our most requested feature given our Pixel 4 XL review suffered from that flaw, Google has advised that improvements to the dark mode will help save battery power.

Whether that means the Pixel 4’s battery woes are gone is another issue altogether, though our guess is that you’ll still want to be close to a power adaptor or wireless charger. Perhaps those changes will come later on, possibly before the Pixel 4a is announced and manages to outshine its sibling.

Leigh :) Stark

One of Australia's well regarded technology journalists working out of Sydney, Leigh Stark has been writing about technology for over 15 years, covering phones, computers, cameras, headphones, speakers, and more. Stylising his middle initial with an emoticon, he aims to present tech in a way that makes it easy for everyone. While he founded Pickr in 2016, Stark's work can be seen in other publications including The Australian Financial Review, Popular Science, and many more. His award-winning podcast "The Wrap" is syndicated on Southern Cross Austereo's LiSTNR network weekly, while he can be heard on radio via ABC Brisbane and ABC Canberra, and seen on TV's Nine. Check out Leigh Stark's most recent media appearances.

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