Google Pixel 6 and Google Pixel 6 Pro owners don't have to worry about FOMO as new Pixels hit the market. Google plans to give these older Tensor-powered devices an upgrade that includes some of the capabilities found in newer models
Those would be the Google Pixel 7 and Google Pixel 7 Pro, both announced earlier this month during Google’s October Pixel event. Those phones feature the new Tensor G2 silicon which introduces a number of machine learning-powered features in the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro.
As it turns out, not all of those capabilities are exclusive to Tensor G2-equipped phones. Phone Arena (opens in new tab) reports that several new Pixel 7 features are making their way to the Pixel 6.
Some of these features are coming with the next Pixel Feature Drop in December 2022, whereas the release date for others has yet to be determined. Here's a closer look at what current Pixel owners can expect to get.
New Tensor features coming to Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro
The Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro are getting Clear Calling as one of the features touted by Google, though that feature isn't available as either phone hits stores today (October 13). Clear Calling uses machine learning to reduce background noise while also enhancing the voice of whoever is calling you.
This feature is expected to come to all Tensor-powered Pixel phones (Pixel 6 or newer) in the December feature update according to Pocketnow (opens in new tab), along with the ability to stop an incoming call by saying “Silence.” Hopefully, those changes will make for a better phone experience on recent Google smartphones.
Another feature announced at the October event was Guided Frame, which uses haptics and audio feedback to help position the phone when you're taking a selfie. While this feature largely impacts those with impaired vision, it's clever way to make basic photo capabilities more accessible to Pixel users.
Luckily, you won’t need to have a Pixel 7 or Pixel 7 Pro to use this awesome accessibility feature. It is expected to come in an update later this year, possibly the December feature Drop.
Finally, Tensor-powered devices are getting improvements to Pixel’s Real Tone. This feature more accurately represents the skin tones for people of color. Real Tone has already been featured on the Pixel 6 devices, including the Pixel 6a, but the Pixel 7 release is bringing with it an updated algorithm that reduces noise and blur in low-light settings.
This updated algorithm will eventually come to the other Tensor-powered models in a software update, but there is no ETA on when that update will arrive. When the update comes, it will reportedly integrate with Pixel’s Night Sight and Portrait modes.
Spatial Audio with Pixel Buds Pro
There is one update coming to the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro that will require a particular Pixel accessory. Google will bring Spatial Audio to the Google Pixel Buds Pro, creating create 3D audio for listeners when using the premium wireless earbuds.
Once the software update is available for the Pixel Buds Pro Spatial Audio, the feature will then work when pairing the earbuds with a Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro, Pixel 7 or Pixel 7 Pro. Unfortunately, it seems Pixel 6a owners will not get this feature update.
Additional Pixel features coming to older devices
Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pros owners aren’t the only ones getting some trickle-down updates from the Pixel 7. Pixel’s “At a glance” widget will now display your flight number and gate number along with baggage claim information. Additionally, one-click Audio Transcription will allow Pixel users to convert audio messages into text at just the tap of the screen.
These features will eventually come to all devices from Pixel 4a and newer in upcoming drops, but there is no specific ETA at this time.
Some features are still Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro exclusives
Unfortunately, Google cannot give away all its new features to older phones. Super Res Zoom received some updates with the Tensor G2 chip that allows Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro users to capture 12.5MP photos with 2x digital zoom that Google says will hold up against a 2x telephoto lens optical zoom. Pixel 7 Pro users even get a further boost, with Super Res Zoom allowing up to 30x magnification when combining the feature with the Pixel 7 Pro’s telephoto lens.
The other feature that users with older Pixel phones will miss out on is Face Unlock, which is a real bummer. There may be some hardware restrictions that we do not know about, but regardless it seems the feature won’t be coming to older phones anytime soon — though the Google Pixel 4 and Google Pixel 4XL have always had this feature.
Still not sure if you should buy a new Pixel phone? Make sure to look at our face-offs to see how the Pixel 7 stacks up against the Pixel 6 or how it stacks up against the Pixel 6a. We also took a look at whether it's worth skipping the Pixel 7 and going for the Pixel 7 Pro instead. Finally, we put the Pixel 7 Pro up against the Samsung S22 Ultra and compared the Pixel 7 Pro vs the iPhone 14 Pro Max to see if Google can keep up against the competition.