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Pixel phones updated with new gesture controls, emoji, AR effects & more


One of the benefits of owning a Pixel smartphone is that it improves over time, as Pixels are first to receive updates that deliver the latest fixes and improvements. The first round of new features arrived in December, including a filter for robocalls, more photo controls, improved Duo calls and more. Today Google says Pixel owners are getting a second set of additions, this time including new music controls, new emoji, still more photo and video features, expanded emergency help features, Google Pay improvements and several others.

Last year, Google introduced a new sort of gesture control, called Motion Sense, with the introduction of the Pixel 4. The idea is that you can now control your phone without having to touch it. Instead, the smartphone detects the wave of your hands and translates that into software controls.

Already, Motion Sense allowed Pixel 4 owners to skip forward or go back to a previous song. With today’s update, they’ll also be able to pause and resume music by making a tapping gesture above the phone.

Google suggests this will be an easy way to pause your music when you need to have a conversation. But in reality, it will only be useful if it works consistently — and so far, reviews have said the Motion Sense system was finicky and underdeveloped. That could change in time, of course.