Pixel 4 “feature drop” brings new camera tricks and better call-screening

Goodbye robocalls, hello adjustable bokeh.

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Earlier this year, Google announced it would add new features to its Pixel handsets via regular “feature drops”. Today we’ve seen the first of them, and the key changes make for better portrait-style photos, more reliable face unlocking, slicker video calls with Google’s Duo app, and fewer unsolicited calls (from people or robots pretending to be people).

Adjust the digital bokeh — Thanks to the latest update, Pixel 4 owners can now adjust the background blur of images after they’ve taken them using a new slider in the photo editing menu. Mashable says the adjustments can be made to existing photos as well as old ones.

Duo updates — Video-calling app Duo gets a couple of updates, too. It’ll now automatically keep your face centered in the frame during calls, you can subtly, digitally blur your background, and if someone joins an existing call, the frame adjusts to accommodate the additional face accordingly. All of which would be far more exciting if anyone we knew actually used Duo.

Fewer robocalls — Pixel users in the U.S. can also look forward to better call-screening courtesy of Google Assistant, which will endeavor to provide more info about who’s calling in the case of unknown callers and (hallelujah) lets you filter out one of the greatest travesties of modern life: robocalls.

Safer face locking — The last of the really big feature updates is improved face unlocking, which will now use recent images gleaned from unlocks to improve the model the handset has of your face.

Hopefully, all of the new features are here to stay. The Pixel 4 got support for the storage-saving H.265/HEVC video codec shortly after it launched in October 2019, but the feature then disappeared, only to reappear again later. If you haven’t got the new features yet, sit tight. They may take a little while to roll out to all Pixel 4 owners.