January 2019 Android security patch arrives for Pixel devices and the Essential Phone

Update (Jan. 7, 2:40pm ET): As is the tradition at this point, Essential has announced that the January security patch is currently rolling out to the Essential Phone. While we continue to wait for some manufacturers to announce when Android Pie will make it to various handsets, Essential is rolling out firmware updates within hours of Google.

Original post (Jan. 7, 1:43pm ET): In the midst of CES 2019, Google has begun rolling out Android’s January security patch. This month’s update appears to be primarily focused on fixing video recording issues on the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL in addition to other bug fixes.

The January security patch fixes 13 various vulnerabilities in the Android Open Source Project. The most severe of these security bugs could “enable a remote attacker using a specially crafted file to execute arbitrary code within the context of a privileged process.” Fortunately, things were fixed before anyone could use the vulnerabilities to harm any users.

For Pixel devices, this update “Improved audio quality when recording videos” on the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL. No specific bugs other than two security vulnerability fixes were noted for the rest of Google’s hardware.

Unlike with the last two months, owners of the original Pixel and Pixel XL don’t have to wait for January’s security patch. This month, Google appears to have the updates prepared and available for every Pixel device.

Of course, with the new year, we have to say goodbye to the Nexus 6P and Nexus 5X. As Google only promises security updates for three years after the release of a phone, we have officially reached the end of support date for both handsets.

If you don’t want to wait for the January security patch to make its way to your phone or tablet, you can download the latest factory image or OTA file from the links below. From there, you can either flash a fresh build to your phone or sideload the OTA update.

December 2018 security patch arrives for Pixel, Nexus, Essential Phone, and 2016 Pixels

Update #2, December 5 at 8:39 a.m. ET: Google has posted December 2018 factory images and OTA files for the original Google Pixel and Google Pixel XL. You can download them below:


Update #1, December 3 at 4:12 p.m. ET: Essential is usually quick to roll out Android security patches soon after Google releases them, and this month’s patch is no different. Essential Phone owners, the December Android security patch should be rolling out to your devices now!


Original article, December 3 at 1:05 p.m. ET: Right on schedule, Google has released Android’s December security patch. The new factory images for the various Google devices are here, while the OTA files are here.

The good news is that the Pixel C, Nexus 6P, and Nexus 5X are still getting updates, despite the fact that the company is no longer obligated to issue security patches for the three-year-old devices.

However, the bad news is that — just like last month — the security patches for the Google Pixel and Google Pixel XL are not here yet. Last month, the updates for the OG Pixel devices came about two weeks after the initial batch. Is this going to be the trend from now on?

Editor’s Pick

The December patch itself includes fixes for multiple security vulnerabilities. The most severe of these issues is a critical security vulnerability in media framework that could enable a remote attacker to execute arbitrary code on a device. However, Google has no record of any attacker actually exploiting this vulnerability.

The patch also includes a long-awaited fix for the memory management problems present on the Google Pixel 3 and Google Pixel 3 XL. There’s also some camera improvements, a fix for flickering always-on-display, and some Bluetooth audio enhancements. Check out the table below to see what’s getting a fix for your device(s):

If you don’t want to wait for the December security patch to make its way to your phone, you can download the latest factory image or OTA file from the links below. From there, you can either flash a fresh build to your phone or sideload the OTA update.

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Call Screen starts slowly rolling out the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL

  • Google has started rolling out Assistant’s Call Screen feature to the Google Pixel 2 and 2 XL.
  • Call Screen allows Assistant to answer calls on the user’s behalf and record a message for them.
  • It’s available in the U.S. only right now.

It looks like Google has started rolling out Call Screen to the Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL. Android Police was tipped-off about the update yesterday before several others in the comments chimed-in to say they’d received it too.

The feature, which launched with the Pixel 3, allows Google Assistant to answer calls on the user’s behalf. Here, Assistant will ask the caller to explain the reason for the call, and that the message will be recorded and passed on. Pixel owners can customize Assistant’s responses, as well as listen in to the call live and answer if they wish to.

This can be particularly useful for dealing with nuisance phone calls; read more about it here.

Editor’s Pick

Google has previously said Call Screening would come to the Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL in November, but it didn’t offer a more precise date. The rollout seems to be underway now, but given the sparse confirmations, it could take another few days (or perhaps weeks) to arrive to all users. It’s a U.S.-only feature for now.

Look out for the functionality on your Pixel 2 soon and let us know in the comments if it’s already with you. For everything else you need to know about how the gen-two Pixel stacks up against the latest model, head to our Google Pixel 2 vs Google Pixel 3 comparison.

That didn’t take long: You can now download the Pixel 3 version of Google Camera

Pixel 3 XL hands on

  • Users with older versions of the Google Pixel can now download the latest Pixel 3 Google Camera APK.
  • The app comes with some new features and changes to the UI.
  • Some of the Google Pixel 3 camera’s main features, such as Top Shot and Night Mode, are not included.

An APK of the latest version of the Google Camera app is now available to download (spotted by Android Police). The new version of the app brings some big UI changes and new features to the camera of older Google Pixel phones.

Unfortunately, new Google Pixel 3 camera modes such as Top Shot, Photobooth, and Night Sight are still exclusive to the latest phones.

Google Camera screenshot 3
Google Camera screenshot 2
Google Camera screenshot

Nonetheless, the additions the app brings to older Pixel models are still useful. The biggest change is that the Google Camera app now has support for RAW images. This is great news for those who like to really tinker with their photos. You can turn RAW support on in the “advanced” section of the settings menu.

Another change comes to the face retouching option found in portrait mode. Instead of simply having the option to turn retouching on or off, you can now set the type of retouching to either natural or soft. Google also made a slight change to the way you take panoramas within the app. It now directs you to create the panorama using arrows, not alignable dots like in the old version.

Editor’s Pick

UI changes include a new way to switch between camera modes. Much like on the iPhone, you now just have to scroll to the left or the right in a menu above the shutter button to change to a different mode. Clicking on “More” in this menu brings up other camera functions such as Photo Sphere, AR Stickers, and Lens. 

If you want to give the latest version of Google Camera a try, you can download the APK here. While it is currently only available for Google Pixel users, last year, it didn’t take long for people to port the app so it could work on other devices.