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It’s been an interesting few weeks in the Pixel software updates. As this particular cycle draws to a close, let’s recap:
The March cycle has actually begun Feb 28th With the introduction of fall detection on the Pixel Watch. First announced in October, it was a server-side rollout that only required you to update the January on your watch.
Pixel phone updates usually arrive on the first Monday of every month. March 6th It didn’t see any Feature Drops (or Android 13 QPR2), but a high-profile changelog leaked anyway that afternoon revealing a rather small update.
What we got that week March 7thIt was an update to the Pixel Buds Pro that enabled Spatial Audio with head tracking. Fixed-position spatial audio launched in January, with Google teasing head tracking for its earbuds around that time.
Another wrinkle appeared March 10th When Google said that the Android Beta program would require you to opt out to get the stable QPR2 build. Previously, all devices enrolled in beta got a stable version. With this change, Google stated that you had to first leave the program and ignore the downgrade prompt while you wait for the March update to roll out. While this policy change is beneficial for beta users in that it reduces the number of things they have to install, the risk of accidental data wipe is too great in my opinion, and many people anxiously asked what to do despite Google’s explanations.
The March 2023 Update is finally here March 13, but only for Pixel 4a-5a, 7 and 7 Pro phones. Google didn’t say anything about the Pixel 6, 6 Pro, or 6a, going back to how these Tensor phones lag behind in updates at launch.
Later that week, on March 16thGoogle Project Zero — a team focused on 0-day vulnerability discovery — has discovered critical vulnerabilities in Exynos modems that could allow silent compromise and remote (by only knowing your phone number) Pixel 6, 6a, and 7.
The Pixel 7 and 7 Pro have been shielded (from the four biggest issues, like us learned yesterday) If you’ve updated to the March security patch, but since the update hasn’t arrived yet, the same can’t be said for the Pixel 6 family. The disclosure recommended – very boldly – that you turn off VoLTE (not possible on the Pixel) and Wi-Fi calling to avoid this issue .
It’s worth noting that this advice was not provided by the Pixel team, but rather by a separate, independent group of researchers within the company. However, the optics were a bit odd and confirmed Google’s sometimes desperate nature. Some coordination (for example, waiting for the update to come out on all Pixel phones) would have gone a long way to reducing panic.
Meanwhile, in March 17-18Another user-facing vulnerability has emerged in the Markup utility. Some screenshots may be unretouched and uncropped depending on the service (eg Discord) you posted the capture to.
on March 20thThe Pixel 6 series has been updated and Google is detailing a major update to the Pixel Watch. For the past three months, wearables have also been updated on the first Monday of the month. (As of Tuesday, the update is now widely available.)
As with the Pixel 6, it’s not clear why this update was delayed (and whether the modem vulnerability had anything to do with it). It’s notable how the Pixel Watch definitely saw a newer build than the Verizon changelog that leaked early on. Changes have definitely been made.
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