Watching Google officially declare the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, you will be hit by how much of its presentation concentrated on the most fundamental smartphone feature: the phone call.
Smartphones may have evolved into miniature handheld computers, competent for doing everything from office work to filming flicks, but Google refuses to forget about the phone part of its smartphones.
The most fundamental feature to help with phone calls is Clear Calling, hints of which were discovered in Google’s beta software last month. It’s designed to use machine learning to cut down on background noise from persons on the other end of a Pixel 7 phone call, making them more easily audible.
Google is far from the first company to implement noise suppression technology like this. The likes of Nvidia and AMD already offer similar functionality on PCs for conference calls and streaming. But unlike Apple, which hasn’t made a big deal out of its Voice Isolation feature and hides it in an obscure sub-menu, Google presented Clear Calling front and center as one of the Pixel 7’s flagship features.
Meanwhile, Direct My Call, launched with the Pixel 6 last year, is also being boosted. Direct My Call is designed to help you steer complicated menus used by call centers to triage your phone call. It transcribes the diverse options, showing them as on-screen text, so it’s more straightforward to get an overview of all the available options before completing your selection. Google says the feature has been used with 50M business calls since launch.
Google’s emphasis on phone call features for its Pixel devices is far from a new initiative. But offering them their section during the Pixel 7’s launch highlighted how important they’ve become to Google’s marketing, where they sit prominently alongside performance and camera quality claims.
Even as far back as 2018’s Pixel 3, Google was advertising its Call Screen feature, which lets its phones screen spam calls and provide you with transcriptions of its software’s conversations with unwanted callers. During the company’s presentation yesterday, Rakowski said this screening feature handled 600 million calls last year.
In 2020, the same year it launched the Pixel 5, Google released Hold for Me, a feature that has Google Assistant monitor a call when you’re put on hold and alert you when it’s time for you to speak with an actual human being. Initially launched for the Pixel 5, 4A, and 4A 5G, the feature was released for Pixel devices returning to the Pixel 3.
Finally, there’s Wait Times, another component launched alongside last year’s Pixel 6 that has since been made open on the Pixel 3A and up. Like Hold for Me, Wait Times is designed to reduce the frustration of being put on hold.
But instead of enduring your call for you, the feature evaluates the amount of time you might be put on hold established on call lengths from other people who have dialed the same number.
It’s great to see Google focusing its development energy on the most fundamental smartphone features. Still, it’s a disgrace that many of these technologies have stayed stubbornly upscale to the US. It’s an unhappy limitation considering Google’s Rakowski took a moment to highlight the global availability of the Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro, which he says will be unrestricted to “even more users, in more places.”
Modern smartphones may be filled with a dizzying array of features, but Google’s presentation yesterday didn’t overlook the fundamentals.