Google Pixel smartphones get audio upgrade

Google Pixel smartphones get audio upgrade
(Image credit: Google)

Google Pixel owners are in for an audio upgrade with the December Feature Drop bringing Adaptive Sound and Now Playing playlists.

Adaptive Sound is Google's name for its auto EQ technology, which was supposed to come baked into the Google Pixel 5 at launch. It uses the mobile's microphones to gauge your current environment and then the software automatically adjusts the EQ profile of the phone's output to deliver the best sound.

It's arrived, alongside a host of other features, to Pixel phones as part of Google's 'Pixel Feature Drop' software additions for December which will be available to owners shortly.

This version of Adaptive Sound for the Pixel handsets, not to be confused with the Adaptive Sound volume automation tech that's used in the Google Pixel Buds, is only for the Google Pixel 5 and Pixel 4a 5G. However, owners of older Pixel smartphones will get a few other toys to play with.

The other, on the audio side, is to do with the Now Playing software which works like Shazam to identify tracks that are in your environment throughout the day. Now you'll be able to create playlists from those tagged tracks and export them to Google's streaming service, YouTube Music.

The other AV Android addition is with Duo group calling. You'll now be able to share your screen with those you're doing video calls with, such that the screen will split and you can watch a vid together, for example, while also maintaining live visual contact with your friends.

All Pixel phones from the Pixel 3 upwards will also enjoy features such as new wallpapers and homescreen customisations, contextual translation of foreign language pages and Extreme Battery Saver which automatically pauses non-essential apps when battery life is tight.

On top of this the Pixels 5 and 4a 5G will also get more accurate GPS and, along with the Pixels 4 and 4a, Adaptive Charging which looks after your phones battery health.

If you feel a little jealous of later Pixel phone owners and fancy an upgrade, then be sure to check out our Google Pixel 5 review.

While the audio updates are certainly interesting, we'd sooner see the return of a 3.5mm socket. We might be fighting the tide on that one, though. We shall see if the Pixel 6 bucks the trend.


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Dan Sung

Dan is a staff writer at What Hi-Fi? and his job is with product reviews as well as news, feature and advice articles too. He works across both the hi-fi and AV parts of the site and magazine and has a particular interest in home cinema. Dan joined What Hi-Fi? in 2019 and has worked in tech journalism for over a decade, writing for Tech Digest, Pocket-lint, MSN Tech and Wareable as well as freelancing for T3, Metro and the Independent. Dan has a keen interest in playing and watching football. He has also written about it for the Observer and FourFourTwo and ghost authored John Toshack's autobiography, Toshack's Way.