Your Google Pixel should get these time-saving upgrades in the next Feature Drop

Google Pixel 8 shown held in hand
(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Google Pixel owners can expect a number of fun improvements to their phones in the next Feature Drop according to Android expert Mishaal Rahman and our friends at Android Central.

Google sends these Feature Drop updates roughly every three months, so we expect the next one to arrive in March alongside the next Quarterly Platform Release (QPR) version for regular Android 14.

These features aren't officially announced, and Rahman says he can't guarantee everything he discussed will make it to the Feature Drop. But the fact they're all basically complete means they are very likely to appear on compatible Pixels soon.

Quick Settings get quicker

To begin, the Quick Settings that live at the top of the Notifications shade have gained some new powers. The Bluetooth tile now displays all your paired devices when you tap and hold it, and lets you quickly switch between them. It also offers you a shortcut to the relevant area of the Settings app to make a new pairing a new one. Similar functionality was already offered in some manufacturer-specific Android skins, but it's always good to see Google add a feature into basic Android for all phone makers to make use of.

Pixel Feature Drop March '24 Internet and Bluetooth Quick Settings pop-ups

(Image credit: Android Central / Mishaal Rahman)

The Internet tile in Quick Settings has also had a useful addition in the form of a Share Wi-Fi button, which appears with a tap-and-hold. This should be much quicker and more obvious to access than the Settings app menu that let you do this before.

Smarter and safer recording

Google's added the choice to screen-record or screen-mirror not just the phone's whole screen, but only one app, the latter hiding any notifications that appear while recording or mirroring. Anyone who has hooked up their phone to a display to show off a slide deck or some photos, only to then accidentally display a message preview nobody else should have seen, will be relieved.

Android already shows a green or orange icon in the corner to show you if the camera or microphone is in use, which sends you to a full-screen status page to show you which app is using them. But the next Pixel Feature Drop should change this screen to a less obtrusive pop-up, letting you quickly see which apps are using these functions without leaving the app you're currently using.

Pixel Feature Drop March '24 single app screen recording and microphone/camera usage alert pop-ups

(Image credit: Android Central / Mishaal Rahman)

One piece of news that Pixel Fold users will appreciate from Rahman is the taskbar app drawer now has a search bar to find your apps much more easily. This is already a feature for the main app drawer, but it meant foldable users had an inconsistent experience when trying to look for apps from the shortcut dock at the bottom of the screen when the phone's unfolded.

Pixel Feature Drop March '24 app search in taskbar app drawer

(Image credit: Android Central / Mishaal Rahman)

Assorted other changes that Rahman says are coming to the Feature Drop include speedier background downloads for over-the-air (OTA) updates, a reworked Weather lock screen design, two-line labels in the Pixel Launcher to make it easier to read app names, the removal of the Restricted battery mode and package names for different apps on the info pages, allowing users to see the exact source of a given app.

It's been quite the start to 2024 for Pixel users. The Google Gemini AI chatbot just appeared for U.S. Pixel owners, and other updates like body temperature readings for the Pixel 8 Pro's thermal sensor and Circle to Search have also just launched. While these Feature Drop additions aren't all-new capabilities for compatible Pixels, they're still great-sounding optimizations of features you're likely already using regularly.

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Richard Priday
Assistant Phones Editor

Richard is based in London, covering news, reviews and how-tos for phones, tablets, gaming, and whatever else people need advice on. Following on from his MA in Magazine Journalism at the University of Sheffield, he's also written for WIRED U.K., The Register and Creative Bloq. When not at work, he's likely thinking about how to brew the perfect cup of specialty coffee.