Google's latest Pixel feature adds Circle to Search, Magic Compose, and more

The new “fresh” color of the Pixel 8 series isn't the only thing Google is announcing today. The company is also detailing its latest feature drop, which brings the all-new Circle to Search feature – first seen on Samsung's Galaxy S24 – to both the Pixel 8 and 8 Pro. Google says Circle to Search will go live on January 31, the release date of Samsung's S24 lineup. By long-pressing the home button or navigation bar, you'll be able to circle anything on your phone's screen, and Google will provide more information about the featured content.

The feature reduction also makes the Pixel 8 Pro's built-in thermometer at a minimum a little Even more useful: You can now use it to measure your (or someone else's) body temperature. Google describes this feature as “medical grade,” so it seems certain that the company has received some level of FDA clearance to use the thermometer in this way. It's still baffling to me that Google decided to build a thermometer into the phone to begin with, but now you have a practical use for it instead of checking the temperature of your coffee or something silly.

You can sync body temperature readings to your Fitbit account.
Image: Google

Older Pixels are getting some new tricks, too: Google says the Pixel 6 and later will be able to use Magic Compose to “rewrite a draft of a message in different styles” with the help of artificial intelligence. This processing happens on-device in the case of the Pixel 8 Pro, but other Google phones will be able to take advantage of the cloud to professionalize their messages or make them more concise.

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This feature also changes what was previously known as the Nearby Share feature to the simplified “Quick Share” tag that Google and Samsung now share. The functionality remains the same: Quick Share lets you send content to nearby Android, ChromeOS, and Windows devices that support this feature.

Wrapping up the latest update, Google says automatic audio switching is coming to the Pixel Watch. “You can switch your Pixel Buds Pro from a Pixel Watch to any number of Pixel phones or Pixel tablets and get helpful notifications about where the audio is shifting,” the company wrote in its blog post. Finally, Google is bringing the “Photomoji” feature to its Messages app:

Want to reply to a message with a photo of you or your favorite four-legged friend? Photomoji on Google Messages lets you turn your favorite photos into interactions with the help of Google AI on the device. Simply select the image, review the object you want to interact with, and press send. Your creations will be saved in a special tab for reuse, and as a bonus, your friends in group chats can use sent emojis.

As always with these features, they will begin rolling out to some Pixel owners as early as Thursday, with others to follow “over the next few weeks.”

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