So we’ve seen the Pixel 4 officially break cover, with new colors, pricing, and most importantly, new features.
While some of these new software additions are hardware-specific, there are a few features that will make the jump and will be coming to the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a families very soon.
This is great news for those of you reading that picked up the budget beast 3a or the previous flagship Pixel 3, as you get a mini dose of the Pixel 4 without the associated $700+ price tag.
Unfortunately, we do have some bad news for Pixel 2 fans and owners. Not all of these features look as though they are heading your way officially. You may be able to get some down the line, thanks to sideloading and the magic of modded APK files but that may mean janky performance and issues.
With that said, here’s everything trickling down from the Pixel 4 all the way to your Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a.
Top Shot for short videos
Top Shot, released last with the Pixel 3 and 3 XL, is a really neat way to ensure that you get the best possible photo in a moment. It works by using the Motion Photos feature to essentially pick a still from a short video. That is awesome for stills and something that you may already use a ton.
You’ll soon be able to do something very similar, but with short videos rather than stills. This feature has been known about for a little while as we expected it, as Smart Burst was removed from the Google Camera app with the release of the Pixel 3.
When taking a photo, if you tap and hold the shutter button, it will also save a mini video. The resolution is pretty awful at 768 x 1024 pixels, though. Google has been calling this “short video” on their own official Top Shot support pages, but we don’t know exactly when it is coming to the Pixel 4, 3, and 3a. We’d just wager “soon” (via Android Police).
The new Live Caption feature is already available on the the Pixel 4 but will come to the Pixel 3 and 3a later this year. It is a powerful accessibility feature that generates real-time captions on any video without needing an internet connection.
The captions themselves won’t get in your way or be intrusive, as you can simply drag them around on screen, too — especially helpful on the Pixel 3a screen, we’d imagine. This feature will be great, as it will allow those that are deaf or hard of hearing to enjoy far more content.
Google confirmed with Android Police at the launch event that we’ll see the feature on the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a at some point in December. For the time being, Live Captions won’t work with video calls, but it wouldn’t be too much of a stretch to see them sometime way down the line.
Recorder + Live transcription
We saw just how powerful the new Google Recorder app and live transcription can be, thanks to a leaked version of the app. For journalists, students, and even when in meetings, it really is the stuff dreams are made of.
Like the new Google Assistant, it doesn’t need an internet connection. It’s still able to accurately distinguish words, and I have had no problems with the leaked build with a heavy English accent. English is only supported at present, but expect more languages to be available over the next 12 months.
It’s highly likely that the Google Recorder will come as a standalone app to the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a at some point soon. You can get a taste of it right now if you simply must by sideloading the APK file — but there may be bugs.
New Google Assistant
Note: It’s not clear if we’ll see the completely revamped Google Assistant — with its extremely cut-down UI — come to the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a. But we are already seeing Google rollout a slightly smaller more streamlined UI to Pixel 3 and 3a devices. We don’t know if Google is planning on cramming the Assistant onto your device without the need for an internet connection as yet, which would be, of course, a really big deal.
As we saw back at I/O 2019, the refresh is insanely fast and precise — not that it is currently slow. The new UI is far less intrusive, too. It takes up barely any screen real estate and has a more fluid look and colorful feel, as it just pops up as a thin bar above your navbar.
As we mentioned, we aren’t sure if or when the Pixel 4 new Assistant will be heading to 3 and 3a, but will definitely update you once we know more details.
Recent Google Camera builds have shown that we can already access the new Astrophotography mode seen on the Pixel 4 on Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a devices, as all phones should support the feature via an app update — although the update isn’t available everywhere yet.
#NightSight already helps you take beautiful photos in the dark. Now you can use it for shots of the night sky.🌙✨ Coming to Pixel 3a and Pixel 3 as well as #pixel4. #madebygoogle pic.twitter.com/o4bORnPc6j
— Google (@Google) October 15, 2019
Pixel 4 features likely not coming to Pixel 3, 3a
Car Crash detection
Dual exposure modes
There is no expectation that the new dual exposure mode is coming to older Pixel models. However, Google told our Ben Schoon that the feature is somewhat reliant on the Pixel 4’s hardware — presumably the new Pixel Neural Core — and for that reason, it “is easier” to support on Pixel 4. They didn’t rule out a version of the feature landing on older devices, though.
What Pixel 4 features would you like to see come to the older Pixels?
Of course, some features can never make the jump from Pixel 4 to older models. Motion Sense simply can’t work the same way on older hardware as it does on Pixel 4, thanks to the new Soli chip. Beyond that, though, was there anything that you would love to see on your Pixel 3 or Pixel 3a? Let us know down below.
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