The very latest Pixel Feature Drop has arrived alongside the June 2021 security patch, and it has brought with it a very modest selection of new features for those rocking an eligible Google Pixel smartphone — which means that we’ve gone hands-on.

Beyond the bonus of the cleanest, smoothest version of Android running on your smartphone, if you do opt for a Pixel, Feature Drops are yet another enticing prospect for owners and prospective buyers. You’re getting some extra features and device improvements all lumped in with what would normally be just a regular update schedule.

Unlike with most other smartphones, the June 2021 patch includes a number of little extras courtesy of this Pixel Feature Drop that make being a Pixel user just that little bit more “exclusive.” Some of these added extras might come to other devices, but at least for now, you won’t find them anywhere else.

Video — Hands-on with all the June Pixel Feature Drop features

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Night Sight timelapse video

Night Sight is leveling up in 2021 with timelapse video courtesy of the June Pixel Feature Drop. On top of allowing you to create long exposures of the night sky, this new feature lets you create a short video of the exposure. It still caps out at around 4 minutes, but along with your regular photo, you’ll get a video of the sky moving and shifting as the earth spins.

This feature is limited to the Pixel 4 and newer and is best when used in an area without masses of light pollution. It’s just a shame that summer in the Northern Hemisphere means longer days and less chance to properly test it out for yourself until late in the evening. You just need to swipe right after taking an Astrophoto to find your saved video, making the process simple and painless. The big bonus is that you don’t need to toggle any settings to get a neat little video creation.

Google Photos Locked Folder

Although the Google Photos Locked Folder was announced back at I/O 2021, the feature is arriving with the June Pixel Feature Drop for the first time. The feature has existed on quite a few gallery management apps for a while and lets you create a password-protected folder for any images and videos that you want to keep private or securely stored behind a passcode.

When taking an image, you gain a new toggle in the upper right of the display so that you can toggle so that any photos you take are instantly sent to the Locked Folder within Google Photos. A purple padlock in the usual mini preview window will denote any images/videos that are being sent directly here. You can easily view all of the photos you’ve taken and sent to the Locked Folder by viewing the preview and tapping the view images icon.

Your device PIN, fingerprint, or Face ID is used to access the Locked Folder at any point within Google Photos. The biggest bonus is that any photos/videos stored here will be absent from any shared albums. Because the images are only stored offline, they shouldn’t appear on your Nest Hub devices either.

Pick up or decline calls with the Assistant

June 2021 Feature Drop - answer calls with Google Assistant

This is undoubtedly a feature that we’re sure, like us, you thought was already possible on your smartphone but, no, it actually wasn’t. As of June 2021, you have not been able to answer calls with your voice — at least until this latest Pixel Feature Drop.

You can just shout “Hey Google, answer call” or “Hey Google, decline call” and let your favorite voice assistant take care of it. This is perfect if you can’t reach your phone or are busy doing something else.

New wallpapers and ringtones

To help celebrate Pride month, Google has added three new designs to the Wallpapers app and even added some themed ringtones to the Sounds app too. The wallpaper collection comes from illustrator Ashton Attzs, and all three wallpapers are full of life and color. Accompanying the new wallpapers are some new ringtones within the Sounds app from selected YouTube Creators and LGBTQ+ artists.

Gboard

Gboard is getting some more updates alongside the June Pixel Feature Drop, but this is more like confirmation of some features that the fan-favorite keyboard has already received. You may have noticed on your device already, but when copying text, snippet-related icons will appear in the clipboard. So, you may see a Phone icon for a telephone number, an Envelope for an email, or a Pin for an address. It’s pretty neat in action, and with longer items, it helps distinguish between what you’re about to paste.

Other noteworthy additions

  • Call Screen comes to Japan
    • The neat auto call screening feature is now expanding beyond US borders to Japan. It allows you to have the Google Assistant screen potential spam calls on your behalf.
  • Google Recorder gains more regional English dialect detection
    • The awesome Google Recorder app is getting the ability to detect more regional English dialects, including British, Australian, Irish, and Singaporean.
  • Car Crash detection comes to Spain, Ireland, and Singapore
    • Google’s safety tool is now available in three more countries after being first available in the UK, US, and Australia.

What is your favorite new addition from the June 2021 Pixel Feature Drop?

We did say that the new additions were relatively modest, but that doesn’t mean they are not welcome. The March security patch is no less important either, but do you have a favorite new function that has arrived as part of the second Pixel Feature Drop of 2021? Let us know down in the comments section below.

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