The Pixel 8 Pro is one goofy way to take your temperature

The Pixel 8 Pro is one funny way to take your temperature

Earlier this week, Google updated the Pixel 8 Pro to let its strange new temperature sensor finally take readings of human bodies. I regret to tell you that, having used it, it doesn’t make this feature any less baffling.

To measure body temperature, you have to sweep the phone’s infrared temperature monitor over the side of your forehead, right above the temporal artery. So far, nothing super odd here. Just this month, I got to check out the Withings BeamO, a 4-in-1 multiscope that also has you scan the same kind of monitor over the same artery to measure your temperature. The difference is the BeamO was quite easy to use, while the Pixel 8 Pro was incredibly difficult.

The Pixel 8 Pro is one funny way :

This is because the phone’s temperature sensor is housed in the rear camera array. That makes total sense if you’re using it to scan things (though again, why?). But if you’re trying to take your own temperature, it’s difficult to gauge if you’re doing anything properly because you can’t actually see the screen. Google includes an instructional video, which shows you just how close you’re supposed to hold it to your forehead (very close) and how it needs to be tilted at a small angle. The phone will try to walk you through all of this. Once you’re close enough, the phone will vibrate when it’s time to swipe the phone over your face (without touching) toward your temple. You can activate voice cues, but you still have to know where to tap and how fast to move. It’s not what I’d call natural, and you’ll likely need to try it a few times to get the hang of it.

There’s a reason people use the front-facing camera to take selfies, even if the rear camera takes higher-quality pictures. Just from a user experience, this is best made for taking someone else’s temperature or, rather, taking someone else’s temperature while using their phone because it’s weird to keep other people’s health data on your phone. You have the choice of syncing your data with the Fitbit app, and it saves any readings from the past week by default in the

Outside of the fiddly user experience, precision is another question mark. In this picture, my colleague Parker Ortolani’s Pixel 8 Pro told him his body temperature was 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Granted, Parker said he’d just been outside for this particular reading, but that’s bordering on hypothermia. It’s also highly unlikely. I also watched Parker take readings from his wrist and palm. Neither of those areas should have worked, but the phone didn’t stop him. (The feature is only calibrated for the forehead, so you shouldn’t believe results from other body parts.)

To be fair, this is one of the problems with temporal artery temperature readings in general. While they’re quick and usually accurate, they can easily be thrown off by things like direct sunlight, cold environments, or even sweaty foreheads. User error can also impact results, and as I mentioned, this is one finicky way to measure your body temperature.

For this function to make it to the public, Google says it got De Novo FDA clearance. That’s the same kind Apple got for the Apple Watch Series 4’s EKG feature, but it mostly means that it’s a low to moderate risk device (aka usually safe) that doesn’t have a similar equivalent yet. That said, the phone includes several warnings within the temperature app. You can see from these screenshots that Google notes that “temperature readings may vary and are most accurate when done properly.” There are also disclaimers that readings are “general guides only,” and on other screens, the app notes it can’t identify any illness or replace advice from a healthcare provider.

Outside of the fiddly user experience, precision is another question mark. In this picture, my colleague Parker Ortolani’s Pixel 8 Pro told him his body temperature was 95 degrees Fahrenheit. Granted, Parker said he’d just been outside for this particular reading, but that’s bordering on hypothermia. It’s also highly unlikely. I also watched Parker take readings from his wrist and palm. Neither of those areas should have worked, but the phone didn’t stop him. (The feature is only calibrated for the forehead, so you shouldn’t believe results from other body parts.)

To be fair, this is one of the problems with temporal artery temperature readings in general. While they’re quick and usually accurate, they can easily be thrown off by things like direct sunlight, cold environments, or even sweaty foreheads. User error can also impact results, and as I mentioned, this is one finicky way to measure your body temperature.

For this function to make it to the public, Google says it got De Novo FDA clearance. That’s the same kind Apple got for the Apple Watch Series 4’s EKG feature, but it mostly means that it’s a low to moderate risk device (aka usually safe) that doesn’t have a similar equivalent yet. That said, the phone includes several warnings within the temperature app. You can see from these screenshots that Google notes that “temperature readings may vary and are most accurate when done properly.” There are also disclaimers that readings are “general guides only,” and on other screens, the app notes it can’t identify any illness or replace advice from a healthcare .

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