Underperforming sales and alleged infighting around the direction of the device led to a shakeup at Google, resulting in the departure of two key Pixel engineers. The Pixel 4 and 4 XL took some big swings with features like Project Soli radar sensing and a true Face ID-style biometric unlock mechanism. Despite Google’s apparent termination of software support for the 2019 flagships months ago, a surprising upgrade may be bringing the Pixel 4 back from the dead.
Google only guarantees three years of Android version upgrades and one year of security patches, but Samsung gives four full years of OS updates plus an extra year of security patches for all its flagship smartphones. The Pixel 4 was announced in October 2019, and its final major Android update was scheduled for October 2022. However, Android Insider Mishaal Rahman has discovered a fresh build for the smartphone.
Don’t get your hopes up too high, however; this is a pre-release version. Instead, it was moved to Google’s “Android Privacy Sandbox,” a staging area for exploratory work on technologies that might one day make it possible to monitor ads without resorting to the use of third-party cookies. However, a single developer participating in the initiative has had a whole new version of Android installed on their Pixel 4.
Based on Android 13 QPR1, also known as the December 2022 Pixel Feature Drop, this Developer Preview upgrade is as up-to-date as it gets in terms of Android releases. Some Pixel 5 customers are still waiting for the December 2022 security fixes, which are included in this version.
However, this is an official first-party version of Android, so there is cause to think that the Pixel 4 may not be fully outdated just yet. This build isn’t even accessible for the Pixel 4 XL, since the device doesn’t have access to the Privacy Sandbox. The future may offer even more surprises now that Google has reaffirmed its dedication to the Pixel brand as a whole.
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