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Latest Pixel 'feature drop' lets you pause music with a touch-free gesture

Jon Fingas
Associate Editor
Google

Google is trotting out another "feature drop" for Pixel owners, and this latest one might be particularly helpful if you'd rather not fiddle with your phone. For a start, Pixel 4 owners can use a tap gesture to pause or resume music, not just swipes to skip back or forward. That could be extremely helpful if you're cooking and would rather not touch your phone just to stop playback. Most Pixel users can also set the Dark theme to kick in automatically with sunset, and automatically enable rules based on a WiFi network or physical location -- say, silencing your ringtone when you walk through the doors at work.

It should also be easier to handle your purchases and passes. You can press and hold the power button to swipe through the payment cards, passes and tickets you've stored in Google Pay. Pixel 4 users can bring up their emergency info as well. Meanwhile, Pixel 3, 3a and 4 owners in 11 countries (including the US, UK, Canada and Australia) can take a screenshot of a flight's boarding pass barcode to add it to Google Pay. The feature will gradually roll out through March.

There are a host of less vital but still convenient additions. If you have a Pixel 4, the front-facing camera can create images with depth, while adaptive brightness will temporarily ramp up your screen in bright sunlight. Pixel phones as a whole now have 169 more emoji to account for wider ranges of gender, skin and couple combos. Duo now has augmented reality effects to liven up your video chats. Pixel 2 owners are now receiving Live Captions. And if you live in Australia or the UK, you now have car crash detection that can automatically alert emergency crews if you're unresponsive. Few of these features are must-haves by themselves, but they might add up to a lot.