So we saw the official break cover of the Pixel 4, with new colors, pricing, and most importantly, new features.
While some of these new software updates are hardware-specific, some features will make the jump and will soon be coming to the families of Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a.
For those of you reading who picked up the budget beast 3a or the previous flagship Pixel 3, this is great news as you get a mini dose of the Pixel 4 without the $700 + price tag attached.
Sadly, for Pixel 2 fans and users, we have some bad news. Not all of these features look like they’re officially heading your way. Thanks to sideloading and the magic of modded APK files, you may be able to get some down the line but that can mean janky performance and problems.
That said, all the way down from the Pixel 4 to your Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a is here.
Top shot of short videos
Top Shot, first released with the Pixel 3 and 3 XL, is a really cool way to make sure you get the best photo in a moment. It works by selecting a still from a short video using the Motion Photos app. With stills, that’s great and something you can already use a lot.
Something very close you will be able to do early, but with short videos rather than stills. This feature has been popular for a while as we planned, as Smart Burst with the launch of the Pixel 3 was removed from the Google Camera app.
Once you take a photo, it will also save a mini video if you press and hold the shutter button. However, the resolution is quite terrible at 768x 1024 pixels. On their own official Top Shot support pages, Google has called this “short video” but we don’t know exactly when it comes to the 4, 3, and 3a pixels. We would only wager “soon” (through Android Police).
The new Live Caption feature is already available on the Pixel 4, but will arrive later this year at the Pixel 3 and 3a. It is a powerful accessibility feature that creates captions in real time on any video without having to connect to the internet.
The captions themselves are not going to get in your way or be intrusive, as you can also simply drag them around on the screen— especially helpful on the Pixel 3a screen, we would have imagined. This feature will be fantastic as it will allow much more content to be accessed by those who are deaf and hard to hear.
At the launch event, Google shared to Android Police that at some point in December we’ll see the feature on the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a. For the time being, Live Captions will not work for video calls, but seeing them down the line sometime wouldn’t be too much of a stretch.
Recorder + Live transcription
Thanks to a leaked version of the app, we’ve seen how effective the new Google Recorder app and live transcription can be. It’s the stuff dreams are made of for journalists students and even when in meetings.
It doesn’t need an internet connection like the new Google Assistant. It is still able to distinguish words correctly, and with a strong English accent, I had no problems with the leaked build. English is currently only supported, but in the next 12 months, more languages are expected to be available.
It’s highly likely that the Google Recorder will soon come to the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a as a standalone app. If you just need to sideload the APK file you can get a taste of it right now — but there may be bugs.
New google assistant
The brand new Google Assistant re-engineered— with its highly cut-down Interface — will eventually come to Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a. Google is planning to push the assistant onto your device without having to connect to the internet, so that’s a really big deal.
The update is insanely quick and accurate, as we saw back at I / O 2019— not that it’s slow at the moment. The new user interface is also far less intrusive. This takes hardly any real estate on the screen and has a more fluid look and fun feel as it just pops up above the navbar as a thin bar.
We have no timeline yet, but will certainly update as soon as we know more.
Recent Google Camera builds have shown that we can already access the latest Astrophotography mode seen on Pixel 4 devices on Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a, as all phones will support the feature through an app update — although the update is not yet available anywhere.
Pixel 4 features that are not likely to come to Pixel 3, 3a
Car Crash detection
This is heavily dependent on the latest internals and even the Pixel 4 cameras. Although, again, you may see that the feature comes just a little further down the line to the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a.
Dual exposure modes
There is no hope in older Pixel models that the latest dual exposure mode will arrive. Google, however, told our Ben Schoon that the feature is somewhat dependent on the hardware of the Pixel 4—presumably the new Pixel Neural Core — and that’s why helping on Pixel 4 is “easier.” Nevertheless, they did not rule out a variant of the landing feature on older devices.