This weekend, I took the new January Pixel 6 update for a spin. This is the same update that rolled out for other Pixel devices earlier in January and contained not only a couple month’s worth of security updates, but useful new features and bug fixes as well. We talked about it for quite some time on The Chrome Cast this week, but it can’t be overstated: the delay in this update has been a gut punch to the launch of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro. Two and a half months without an update to Google’s flagship device is a bad look all around, but there is hope that this painfully-long arrival might get things back on track.
The issues with Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro
While there were tons of problems, it’s worth noting that not everyone had them and not everyone’s experience was the same. For example, my wife had terrible mobile network connection issues. I only had it occasionally. I experienced wild fluctuations in auto brightness and she didn’t. For all users, casting session volume control was missing thanks to an ugly legal battle with Sonos and it seemed pretty universal that the fingerprint scanner was still slow and unreliable. Add to this multiple reports of crummy Bluetooth connectivity, some camera issues (blank screen when launching the app), and graphic stability problems (glitches and framerate problems) and you can quickly see why a nearly 3 month wait for fixes to these problems was a bit of a headache for new Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro owners.
These are not all the issues we’ve seen with the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro, but they are the most notable and frustrating. This latest update was aimed to address each of these and an absolute laundry list of other problems while also adding the promised new features from the delayed December Feature Drop. Those additions include adjustments for summoning the Google Assistant via the power button, better bass control for the Pixel Buds, digital car key access, and additional Now Playing abilities. All told, this update is packing in a ton of stuff.
Did the Pixel 6 update work?
So, the question becomes, “Did it work?” From what I can tell at this point, yes. The issues I was experiencing have all been rectified and so far, I don’t see any new problems that have come from this latest update. Frankly, the last Pixel Feature Drop didn’t contain much that I was excited for, but the new features are here anyway. The one new feature I’m already using is the ability to like songs in your Now Playing history. This makes it so easy to hear a new song and keep it tagged for a future look up.
Gone are all my random network issues (and my wife’s, too), and after re-registering my fingerprints again after the update, my under-display fingerprint reader seems as stable as ever. The only thing I’ve run into post-update is a few issues with my adaptive brightness shifting a bit too bright in dark settings out of nowhere. It generally goes back to where it was, but it blinds me for a good 30 seconds before doing so. Finally, I’m very happy to see cast volume control back in my main volume rocker menu after being gone for weeks at this point.
I’d say overall that Google’s fixes are solid and hopefully a step in the right direction. With these two new phones launching with so much fanfare, Google really needed to avoid this sort of press. An update that addresses nearly all the issues could go a long way towards winning back the hearts of users like me who really want the Google Pixel experience and have felt a bit penalized for it over the past couple months. I know phones will always have issues as things continue getting more and more complex, but to see Google step up and deliver a wide-ranging update like this that looks to have corrected most of the reported problems is encouraging. Now it’s on to the next feature drop and hopefully a much smoother ride in 2022.