Google is bringing two big new health features to Pixel phones (and more)

Google is bringing two big new health features to Pixel phones (and more)
If you've ever found yourself using the relatively popular but far from perfect Google Fit app and wishing it could do... more, you'll be happy to hear that's exactly what's coming at some point next month.

While the latest health-tracking features meant to provide a more detailed picture of your wellness without requiring any accessories whatsoever are initially headed for Pixel devices only, the plan is to eventually expand heart rate and respiratory rate monitoring capabilities to other phones as well.

That's right, your Pixel will soon be able to keep an eye on way more than your daily step count with no need to sync to a smartwatch, fitness band, or any other sort of wearable device. If you're wondering how something like that is even possible, you probably don't remember Samsung's pre-Galaxy Note 10 and S20 flagships. 

Starting all the way back with 2014's Galaxy S5, the company's high-end handsets incorporated rear-mounted heart rate sensors whose functionality Google is essentially trying to replicate now sans using dedicated hardware. To measure their heart rate, Pixel owners will simply place their finger on the phone's rear-facing camera lens. From there, the Google Fit app will rely on "subtle changes in the color of your fingers" to deliver a measurement that the search giant claims to be "accurate within 2 percent" based on internal testing.


For respiratory rate supervision, the front-facing camera will step in and basically assume the role of your own virtual personal physician by monitoring chest movements. For that particular feature to work, your Pixel phone will need you to place your head and upper torso in view of its selfie shooter while you breathe normally.

Obviously, Big G doesn't want to make standalone activity trackers obsolete (especially now that it owns one of the wearable industry's pioneers and largest global players), simply aiming to make it as easy (and as cheap) as possible for everyone to stay on top of their health. And while these tools don't sound quite as convenient as a continuous wrist-worn heart rate monitor, they're certainly better than nothing... assuming they'll work as advertised.

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