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5 Things to Know About the Pixel December Android 10 Update

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Google recently released its last Android update of the year, the Pixel December Android 10 update and security patch. This software delivers some important changes and fixes for the original Pixel, Pixel 2, 3XL, 3a and Pixel 4. Including Google’s first “Pixel Feature Drop” with new features exclusive to the Pixel 4. Here’s what owners need to know, what’s changing and how to get the latest update right now.

It’s worth noting that this is the last monthly update for the original Pixel and Pixel XL from 2016, and the Pixel 4 update isn’t available until December 9th. Those aside, all other Pixel devices should already have the update by now. Expect this Android 10 update to improve security & performance, patch issues and fix any lingering problems. You’ll absolutely want to accept and download it right away. Here’s more info.

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Starting this week your Pixel, Pixel XL, Pixel 2, Pixel 2 XL, Pixel 3, Pixel 3 XL, Pixel 3a, and eventually the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL will get a new update with the latest, greatest, fastest and most secure version of Android 10 available. Unfortunately, it looks like Google continues to leave the older Pixel C tablet out, which makes sense, as it’s as old as the original Pixel phones.

Supported Devices

  • Pixel and Pixel XL
  • Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL
  • Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL
  • Pixel 3a and Pixel 3a XL
  • Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL (Available December 9th with new features)

December Android 10 Update, Changes, & What’s New

Google releases the latest security updates on the first Monday of every month, which is Monday, December 2nd, 2019, this month. The over-the-air update started hitting devices immediately, although some people are still waiting. My Pixel 2 XL got it right away.

You can find out more about any changes on the Android security bulletin, and Pixel phone-specific info at the Pixel security bulletin page. Overall we’re seeing 30+ patches that will help keep your Android device safe. Furthermore, there are several function changes and actually fixes for the new Pixel 4, whenever that update starts rolling out. Either way, here’s what we know.

This month you’ll get multiple “critical or high” patches that improve security, patch potential issues, and see several bug fixes for all devices. Not to mention a bunch of exciting features from the new Pixel 4 are finally hitting older devices.

What you see below is the list of “functional fixes” that Google posted on its forum. For December, Google didn’t share a list of functional fixes like the usually do, at least not on the Pixel security bulletin as they’ve done for several years. We’re not sure why they’re hiding the changelog, but here’s what they fixed with the Pixel December update.

Part of the reason we didn’t get a breakdown of changes is that Google hasn’t released the December update for the new Pixel 4 yet, which is the device getting the most changes as it’s brand new. Older phones are simply getting security patches to keep them safe, secure, and running smoothly. Google confirmed the December Pixel 4 update will arrive next week with the fixes detailed above.

The biggest change we’re seeing so far for older devices like the Pixel 3 is that they are getting live captions, styles, and wallpapers from the Pixel 4. So older phones are getting features Google’s newest phone offers. Including new gesture navigation controls, especially in 3rd party launchers and applications.

Update: We’re seeing a bunch of complaints that the December update wrecks the launcher on the Pixel 3 if you use gesture navigation controls. If you’re unable to use your Pixel 3 don’t do a factory reset. Instead, tap “App Info” on the crash popup, in the app settings menu quickly tap the 3-dots menu button and select “Uninstall updates”. If you get the error again before you finish, just follow these steps faster. Uninstall recent updates will fix the Pixel Launcher crash problem. Or, wait for Google to release an update.

Download the December Pixel Android 10 Update

If you’d like to get this newest version of Android for your Pixel device now, instead of waiting, you can download or flash it from the links below. That said, we’re already seeing the update hit most devices, so we recommend waiting for the OTA instead of manually downloading the files.

  1. Download Factory Images
  2. Grab OTA Update Files

If you do manually download the files, here’s how to update your Pixel device.

When Will I Get the Update?

Typically, you’ll get this update the same day Google releases it or within 24-48 hours. Occasionally we see delays or them take upwards of 5-7 days, but that’s rare. My Pixel 2 and 3 both got it already. So, expect an over-the-air update notification soon. If not, it’ll most likely arrive within the next 24-48 hours.

You can also go to Settings > System > System Update > Check for Updates to get it immediately. This pulls the update from Google’s servers to your phone. The entire process should take less than 10 minutes. From downloading to installing and rebooting on Android 10. Or, check again this week if you have the Pixel 4.

Pixel 4 Feature Drop

Oddly enough, Google didn’t update the newest Pixel 4 or Pixel 4 XL at the beginning of the month. Instead, software for that device got delayed by a week and started rolling out as of December 9th. There’s a good reason for that, too. Google is calling the December Pixel 4 update the first-ever “Pixel Feature Drop” with a bunch of new stuff. Most of which they unveiled with Android 10 or during the Pixel 4 launch event, but wasn’t ready for primetime yet. Now that it’s here, this is what you can expect.

  • Portrait Mode – Blur any photo before AND after you take the shot
  • Bye Bye Robocalls – Improved automatic call screening to prevent Robocalls completely
  • Better Video Calls with Duo – Follow faces during video chat, improved video/audio, and more
  • Faster Maps, Google Recorder App, Digital Wellbeing Focus Mode, and more

It’s interesting to see Google take this route, but it’s also a nice way of them showcasing exactly what’s better or new for those with a Pixel 4. This feature drop also has a few things for older Pixel devices, like the faster Google Maps and Recorder app, which are available to older devices. Either way, the December update was a big one for all Pixel devices, so make sure you get, accept, and install the update.

What’s Next for Your Pixel, Pixel 2, 3 or Pixel 4?

With all the changes and fixes from the September, October and November updates, Pixel devices were running like well-oiled machines. However, Android 10 introduced a few new issues even after a long 6-month beta period. Google is still working out a few kinks, but these updates are making it right.

Now that we’re on official Android 10 software, the next step is to simply improve the experience, fix bugs, and tweak the software for the best performance each and every month. We doubt Google will release Android 10.1 anytime soon, but it’s certainly possible. For now, just expect an update this week, one for the Pixel 4 next week, and another on the first Monday of the month in January and moving forward.

If you have an original Google Pixel or Google Pixel XL, this is your last monthly update from Google. You will not get an update in January. Those devices are several years old and will no longer get full support as new devices. Google did confirm that this release has several improvements and the latest security from October, November and December for the original Pixel. All newer devices will continue to see monthly releases.

Keep in mind that this update is only for the Google Pixel lineup. Other phones from OnePlus, Samsung, LG, or others are waiting for updates from the makers. Basically, this update doesn’t apply to you yet unless you have a Pixel, Essential Phone, or maybe a OnePlus phone as they’re pretty quick to updates.

So what’s actually next for your Pixel phone? Well, aside from the January update next month, that’s the Android R beta in early March of 2020. Each year Google kicks off a beta and developer test several months early, and we’ll start learning more about the upcoming Android R release and beta soon. For now, get the latest December Android 10 software for your Pixel. Then, leave us a comment below if it fixes your problems, or causes a new one.

In closing, stay tuned for more details in the near future, or fix your Pixel problems with this guide.

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