Google’s latest Android update for Pixel could give iOS 16 a run for its money

Google Pixel 6 Pro review
A Google Pixel 6 Pro (Image credit: TechRadar)

All eyes are on Apple right now, as the company has just unveiled its next big iPhone software update, iOS 16. But Apple isn’t the only company with new software to show off, as Google has quietly rolled out its June Feature Drop for Pixel phones – and it comes with some eye-catching improvements of its own.

The headline upgrade is perhaps the improvements to Google’s At a Glance widget, which makes important information glanceable from both your home and lock screen.

The update adds new options for info that can be shown on the lock screen, including a video feed from your Nest Doorbell, air-quality alerts, and a reminder that your flashlight is on.

But that’s not all this update brings. It also allows you to add a shortcut to a screen-shotted vaccine card on your home screen, so that you can bring up proof of your vaccination status with a single tap.

Elsewhere, Google’s Live Translate feature now supports Traditional Chinese, Korean, Dutch, Turkish, and Thai; there are new wallpapers available; and the update lands alongside a Pocket Operator app, which allows you to edit and add sounds to your recorded videos.

There's also the usual plethora of bug fixes and security updates, so even if the new features don’t interest you, the update is worth downloading. It’s already started rolling out, but it won’t be available to everyone immediately, so keep an eye out for an alert on your phone.

Analysis: lock screens are getting upgrades on both iOS and Android

One of the big new features coming in iOS 16 is the ability to fully customize the lock screen and add widgets to it. It’s a big change, but with this Feature Drop, Pixel users are getting a number of new widget-like features right now via the At a Glance update.

These new features follow other recent At a Glance updates which added the likes of earthquake alerts and details of connected Bluetooth devices to the lock screen, so there’s a lot you can see without ever unlocking your phone.

That said, these features are only available to Pixel owners – not the wider Android world, and it sounds like iOS 16 will allow users to add an even wider variety of things to the lock screen.

So this isn’t quite a match for what Apple’s doing, but on the other hand it's available now, whereas iOS 16 probably won’t be released in its final form until around September.

James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to, and and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.