This week, Google unveiled the Pixel 8 series, which includes a temperature sensor or thermometer. While not the first phone to have this feature, it is a unique addition.
We were curious if this was the most gimmicky attribute we’ve encountered on Pixel devices. Therefore, we chose to arrange all of the Pixel gimmicks from highest to lowest ranking (beginning with the highest, of course).
1. Active Edge
The Active Edge function was introduced to Google’s Pixel 2 line in 2017. Developed by HTC, this feature enables users to activate Google Assistant by squeezing the sides of the phone.
The Pixel 4 series, released in 2019, received positive feedback from critics and fans overall. However, it was the last line of Pixel phones to feature Active Edge capabilities. While it was a popular feature at the time, it has now been replaced by the Quick Tap function, which involves double-tapping the back of the phone.
2. Dual selfie cameras
In 2018, the Pixel 3 phones were the first in the Pixel series to have two front-facing cameras. These cameras were both 8MP and provided different functions – one for wide-angle selfies at 97 degrees and the other for regular selfies at 75 degrees.
While the Pixel 3’s dual front-facing cameras may not be the most underwhelming feature in the Pixel line, the market has shifted towards a more efficient alternative.
This concept has been used on many phones in the past and present, but LG and Samsung have proven that a single, wider front camera can achieve both standard and wide shots. Google has also adopted this approach in their newer Pixel models, such as the Pixel 7 series. However, using dual front cameras does have the advantage of capturing more depth data for a more precise portrait mode, making it a viable alternative.
3. Temperature sensor
The newest added feature on the list is the temperature sensor or thermometer on the Pixel 8 Pro. It’s an interesting concept that allows you to measure the temperature of various objects like pans and food. However, you must be within a close distance of 5 centimeters (1.9 inches) to accurately measure, so it’s possible for some devices to experience heat damage.
Unfortunately, Google failed to capitalize on this feature as the company is currently pursuing FDA approval in order to make it usable for humans. The main attraction of this feature is its ability to accurately measure one’s body temperature.
The temperature gauge would have been beneficial in the past, but now it seems like an odd inclusion.
Unfortunately, Google missed an opportunity to include a thermometer in their 2020 Pixel 5 or 2021 Pixel 6 models, as HUAWEI had already released a phone with this feature during the COVID pandemic. However, the thermometer could have been useful for tasks such as monitoring cycles and informing employers of illness, once it receives FDA approval for human use.
4. Motion Sense
The Pixel 4’s Motion Sense and associated Soli radar get my nod for the worst Google Pixel gimmick. Soli was a mini-radar system of sorts that was used to detect the user, and it had a couple of use cases at launch but never evolved beyond that.
Soli was utilized to activate the phone’s screen and 3D face recognition sensors for effortless unlocking. Additionally, it facilitated a function called Motion Sense, which enabled users to manipulate their phone through gestures. This included swiping through photos, skipping tracks, pausing music, and other actions with hand movements.
Google’s Motion Sense represents their ultimate fixation on hands-free device control.
Regrettably, there was a significant restriction caused by the uncertification of the Soli radar in numerous regions, resulting in Motion Sense being unavailable in many markets. This problem is also believed to be the cause for the absence of the Pixel 4 series in India. Ouch.
Motion Sense was an interesting concept but it was basically an advanced version of a feature that Samsung first introduced in the early to mid-2010s (Air Gesture). Enterprising developers had even implemented it on Nokia’s Symbian phones before that. Neither of those needed a fancy radar sensor either, relying on the selfie camera instead. Meanwhile, 2019’s LG G8 used a 3D ToF camera for both face unlock and gesture controls — no regulatory certification needed.
However, Motion Sense’s downfall may have been its discontinuation on future Pixel devices. While the feature had potential, Google did not further develop it and ultimately abandoned it.
What is your opinion? Which one is the most exaggerated or misleading claim?