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Why did Google release a Pixel Feature Drop in January?

3 weeks ago 45

Google ended 2023 with a pretty sizable Pixel Feature Drop where the camera took center stage. There was Video Boost + Night Sight Video for the 8 Pro, as well as Night Sight timelapse for the 8/Pro. All users benefited from being able to turn their Pixel into a laptop/desktop webcam, while the Pixel Fold picked up Dual Screen Preview and customizable app aspect ratios (Tablet too).  

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In contrast, this January Feature Drop lets the Pixel 8 Pro Thermometer app measure body temperature, while the 8 and 8 Pro will soon pick up Circle to Search. 

The Thermometer update could have very easily been held until March, though it’s a shame that Google only got regulatory approval for it in mid-December. (Frankly, the Pixel 8 Pro should have launched with the capability ready. A Thermometer that you always have with you because it’s part of your phone is a pretty solid argument.)  However, Circle to Search could not have waited since it’s a prominent part of the Samsung S24 launch, including advertising, on January 31.

With those two features, branding and bundling it as a Feature Drop is better than lone blog posts. Meanwhile, people have been waiting for the seven Google Messages features that launched in beta last year.

In short, I think why Google did its first app-only Feature Drop was a mixture of “why wait” and “external forces,” while there’s also the Mint Pixel 8 and 8 Pro. 

However, it does throw the 2024 Feature Drop cycle into confusion. Since we got one in January, will there be another in March? Another thing muddying what happens is how QPR2 should be ready to launch in February. The big highlight of that Quarterly Platform Reason will undoubtedly be the Bluetooth menu in Quick Settings and that would have made the Feature Drop for a lot of people. (In general, it’s odd that these Pixel updates don’t really touch upon what’s been added or changed in the QPR. It suggests a lack of cohesion.) 

Anyways, we still don’t know why the Android team did that in the first place. That QPR cycle started in November instead of December, thus bringing everything up by a month. Is it an indication that Google ultimately wants to release Android 15 a month early (ignoring for the moment how Android 14 was clearly delayed last year)? 

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