Pixel’s new satellite feature could show people where you are on Google Maps

Recent leaks claim Google is working on further integrating satellite connectivity to their Pixel phones and could introduce support for the tech in Google Maps. This information comes from two industry insiders: AssembleDebug who shared his findings with PiunikaWeb and Nail Sadykov over on Telegram. Beginning with the former, users will apparently be able to share their location with others via satellite connection.

Hints of the location-sharing tool were found in the strings of code on the latest Google Maps beta. It’s unknown exactly how it’ll work. The report doesn’t go into detail. They do, however, say people “will be able to update their location” in the app every 15 minutes to maintain accuracy. But there’s a catch – you can only refresh your whereabouts “up to five times a day.” It makes sense why Google would implement some sort of restrictions. 

This is supposed to be an emergency, potentially life-saving feature akin to Emergency SOS on the iPhone and Google may not want people messing around with it.

Setting up a satellite connection

As for the other update, Nail Sadykov states he found evidence of something called the Android Satellite Pointing UI.

It appears to be a help guide for Pixel that’ll teach people how to connect their smartphone to an orbiting satellite. A video posted to the unofficial Google News channel on Telegram shows how the process could work. 

Users will have to hold their phone in front of them and physically move it around to find a satellite. Once found, you’ll need to keep moving the device until a blue satellite icon reaches the middle of an on-screen circle and stays there for several seconds. Holding the icon in place allows the device to establish connection. If you don’t connect, you’ll receive an on-screen message telling you the session failed. 

Pixel's new satellite connectivity guide

(Image credit: Nail Sadykov)

Sadykov goes on to say the guide will be a part of the Pixel’s “Adaptive Connectivity Service (ACS) app”. It’s unclear if he meant the currently available feature or if there will be a new app solely for ACS. 

He says it’ll be possible to minimize the window into a floating widget on the home page so you can continue texting while trying to establish a connection. When it’s all done, Pixel owners can see Satellite SOS running by swiping down on Quick Settings. You’ll also receive a short message in the menu telling you to avoid buildings, trees, and mountains to ensure a clear view of the sky and not interrupt service.

Potential arrival date

An arrival date for everything you see here is unknown, although both sources believe their respective features will launch on the Pixel 9. The two groups mention a third leak from April 15 about the Pixel 9 series possibly receiving the Samsung Modem 5400 to enable satellite connectivity. The same satellite icon (albeit red) and guide animations from Sadykov’s post were found in the earlier report. PiunikaWeb also mentions seeing the same symbol.

So what we’re seeing today could be the fruits of this new labor – at least potentially. Things could always change at the last minute. Be sure to take all this info with a grain of salt.

While we have you, check out TechRadar's roundup of the best Pixel phones for 2024.

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Microsoft brings one of the Google Pixel’s best features to Windows 11

The Google Pixel series has given us some of the best phones on the market, and one thing that sets it apart from other phones is the suite of built-in generative AI features, like Best Photo and Magic Eraser. Now, thanks to an upcoming tool coming to the Windows Photos App, you won’t need to buy a whole new phone just to get your hands on these types of features. 

Microsoft has announced in a blog post that the ‘Spot fix’ tool in the desktop Photos app will be getting an AI boost, and will now be known as ‘Generative erase’. 

Generative erase will allow you to remove imperfections from your photos in a more natural-looking way, like removing random people in the background and replacing them with an AI-generated backdrop – basically, the exact same way that Magic Eraser works on a Pixel phone. Microsoft notes in the blog post that “Generative erase creates a more seamless and realistic result after objects are erased from the photo, even when erasing large areas”. 

Windows Photos App

The before-and-after is quite impressive – the AI alterations are barely noticeable at first glance. (Image credit: Windows)

Keep it coming!

The example ‘before and after’ image in the blog post shows a very cute dog on the beach, wearing a collar, with some people in the background. After using Generative erase, the new photo looks entirely organic, with the dog collar free and no people in the background. Even when you zoom into the photo to where the collar and people originally were, you can’t see any obviously visible evidence that the image was altered at all. 

It’s an incredibly impressive editing job – considering that it takes very little time and zero effort – and I’m very excited to see it in action when it does make its way over to Windows. It won’t just be Windows 11 users who get to enjoy the new feature, either; Microsoft will be adding the full suite of Photos AI features to Windows 10 too, proving that the older OS isn’t dead just yet.

Currently, the tool is reserved for Windows Insiders, the community of Windows enthusiasts and developers who get early access to potential new features. However, the fact that Microsoft is publicly discussing the feature is a good sign that we will see it sooner rather than later. Alongside Generative erase, the blog notes very briefly that we could also see background blurring and removal features join the Photos app in the same upcoming update. 

The company recently announced that Microsoft Paint was getting another string of new AI features as well, so we may be seeing the beginning of a Windows-wide revamp when it comes to creative AI tools. It seems like Microsoft is putting a lot of time and effort into implementing useful generative features into its apps, which is good news for Windows users who want to experiment with artificial intelligence – without having to make a million accounts on different platforms to do so. 

Via The Verge.

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