The Pixel 8 Pro is the first phone from Google to include a infrared temperature sensor embedded in the camera bar on the back of the phone. But when Google launched the phone in October the company didn’t really provide much of an explanation of what you were supposed to use it for.

Now we know: in addition to measuring the temperature of objects that are no more than two inches away, you can use the sensor as a thermometer to measure body temperature. Google says an updated version of its Thermometer app for the Pixel 8 Pro has begun rolling out as part of the latest Google Pixel Feature Drop.

This isn’t exactly surprising news: months before Google officially launched the Pixel 8 Pro, leaks had indicated that it would include a feature that allowed you to read body temperature by moving the phone over a forehead.

But it seems like Google hadn’t received regulatory approval to classify the phone + software as a medical device in time for launch, so in October Google just said you could use the sensor to do things like check the temperature of a frying pan or the temperature of milk in a baby’s bottle.

Now the US FDA has certified of the Pixel 8 Pro temperature sensor + thermometer app as “Body Temperature Sensing Software,” allowing Google to advertise this feature the way it was most likely always intended.

It’s also worth keeping in mind that it usually takes several years of planning to bring a new feature like this to a smartphone, so it’s likely that Google started developing a thermometer feature earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic when more people were concerned with monitoring body temperatures, among other things, as a way to keep tabs on potential symptoms. COVID-19 hasn’t exactly gone away (there’s a major wave rolling out right now), but it seems that many folks spend a lot less time worrying about it these days, which makes me wonder whether there’s really much demand for this kind of feature in a smartphone.

But it does seem like Google is committed to the idea: recent leaked images of the next-gen Pixel 9 and Pixel 9 Pro show indicate that both phones will most likely have temperature sensors.

Other changes included in the latest Pixel Feature Drop include:

  • Google’s Circle to Search feature that was announced alongside the Samsung Galaxy S24 is now available on the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro.
  • A “Magic Compose” AI features for Google Messages allows you to “rewrite drafted messages in different styles” on Pixel 6 and later.
  • Google Messages is also picking up a Photomoji feature that lets you transform photos into emoji reactions.
  • Nearby Share is being rebranded Quick Share.
  • Pixel Buds Pro can automatically switch between audio sources including a Pixel Watch and Pixel 5a or newer phone (or Pixel Tablet).

The Pixel Feature Drop is rolling out now, but may take a few weeks before it hits all supported Pixel devices.

 

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  1. “It’s also worth keeping in mind that it usually takes several years of planning to bring a new feature like this to a smartphone, so it’s likely that Google started developing a thermometer feature earlier in the COVID-19 pandemic” This is all a conspiracy theorist like myself needs to hear in order to confirm his suspicions lol

  2. And the best thing: no new feature will ever come to europe … none of the Pixel 7 Pro features is even in Europe

  3. How private are these biometric reading taken of your forehead? Will this become a normalized McPhone feature that your employers, law enforcement, advertising companies, banks and the CDC also have privileged access to?

    I lump Pixels into the same category as iPhone and Samsung now.

      1. While that user is over reacting for now, it’s worth mentioning that since no one was punished for things like this during 2019-2022, a mandate to use a third party or government-funded app that records temperatures and passes on the data it collects might be handed down in the event of another one.
        HOWEVER, at the moment that’s still looking unlikely. If iphones do start coming with a built in way to check someone’s temperature, then it’s probably safe to assume that might end up getting used after enough time for enough people to have phones with this feature passes.

      2. Thermometers are cheap. Pixels are not.

        No wonder Bill Gates is pro Team Android… It aligns perfectly with his Jar hobby.

  4. https://blog.google/products/pixel/google-thermometer-app-body-temperature/ – To be clear, it’s an infrared non-contact thermometer. I have had one (Raytek MT4) for decades, and I find it extremely useful. I can tell the temperature difference between the floor and ceiling, plus the outside (window frame) temperature and know whether I can heat the house up by opening the window or not. I can test PCBs and computers for overheating parts, I can do all manner of surface temperature measurements in the kitchen, car, wherever.