Google is deploying its first large Android fix since the introduction of Android 13.
Several new features, 77 bug fixes detailed in a massive support post, 151 Pixel-specific security issues addressed in the December Security Bulletin for Pixels, and a slew of other security patches can be found in Android 13 Quarterly Platform Release 1 (QPR1), which is now rolling out to Pixel phones. On the Pixel 7, this is a monstrous 500MB patch.
As with Google Fi (Google’s cellular service) and Google One (additional Google storage) users, the Pixel 7 will have an always-on VPN. The feature would route all your traffic through an encrypted tunnel that connects directly to Google’s servers and may theoretically avoid Internet service providers and other Wi-Fi users from snooping on your behaviour. It’s hard to determine who a Google VPN is for given, if you’re privacy-conscious, Google is definitely towards the top of the list of firms you don’t trust, but it’s here if you want it. For what it’s worth, Google says it only conducts “limited logging” and doesn’t follow users. To enable the VPN, you’ll need to install the “Google One” software if it’s not already on your phone.
The Pixel 7 is also becoming a better phone owing to a “clear calling” function. Google claims this function takes your incoming phone call audio and “enhances the other caller’s voice and minimises their background noise, so you’ll be able to hear them clearly if they’re in a busy environment.” This sounds a much like the Google Meet noise suppression AI, just applied to dusty old cellphone conversations. The function is limited to the Pixel 7, and you’ll have to switch it on manually under Settings -> Sound & Vibration -> Clear calling.
The Google Recorder app is a journalist’s best friend since it can transcribe meetings and interviews as they happen, providing a searchable transcript in real time. There is no need to worry about losing your recordings because they are safely kept in the cloud on your Google account at recorder.google.com. This updated version of the recorder has the remarkable ability to automatically recognise and categorise each individual speaker. Only Pixel 6 and later Pixel smartphones are compatible with Google Recorder. While it may only appeal to a small subset of people, Google’s Transcription Services app is one of the company’s top offerings and almost justifies the purchase of a Pixel 6a on its own.
Android 13 included significant changes to the Bluetooth stack, and it appears that many of the modifications are aimed at resolving compatibility concerns with the millions of devices on the market. The “user interface” part of Google’s post is rather lengthy and discusses a wide range of design considerations. The most common Pixel 7 concerns have concerned connectivity issues, and they have all been addressed.
We expect to see the update go live any minute now. Navigate to “Settings” > “System” > “System update” if you haven’t seen a notification about this. If you check for it, it should show up.