a group of cell phones

For most of the year, all the cool mobile phone travel tech news was from Apple, like their new digital ID’s allowing you to pass through the airport without a physical wallet.

Finally, it’s Google’s turn, with the release of the Pixel 6, and Pixel 6 Pro. From a magic eraser in photos to instant offline language translation, the new Pixel 6 is jam packed with “wow” travel features. Here’s a few of the coolest.

Pixel 6 Reinvents Google Phones

I first got sucked into Google Pixel phone ecosystem because of ‘Fi’, the Google solution to mobile phone service with arguably the world’s greatest international roaming plan.

That, and the original Google Pixel camera was among the best at the time. Using it allowed me to largely ditch my mirrorless DSLR camera, which was taking up way too much room in my light travel ensemble.

The Pixel lineup went through 5 such iterations before reaching the latest and greatest Pixel 6, which is the first to feature Google’s own ‘Tensor’ chip as the core. The chip will enable the phone to do things in real time, which others cannot. For travel, it’s huge.

a group of cell phones

Real Time Translation

Google Translate isn’t exclusively available on Google Pixel phones, but some of the wildest new features will be. Even offline, the phone can instantly live translate speech in real time, into another language.

In addition, since the voice functions are all part of the processor now, the phone can also convert talking into typing in real time. You can construct an email while walking in transit without looking down.

Anyway, back to the translation.

My Mandarin isn’t very strong, but someone could speak Mandarin to me, and I’d receive a nearly real time read out of what they’re saying. The same concept would work in reverse, if the Mandarin speaker didn’t happen to speak English.

I’ll defer to a “translator” mode convo with lifestyle guru Marie Kondo to better explain. It’s worth the watch.

Magic Eraser For Photos

In a world of over tourism, and shameless influencers (sigh), it’s increasingly difficult to get the perfect, iconic destination picture sometimes. A 19 outfit try on in the backdrop can kinda kill the buzz of sharing vacation photos.

In what might be the coolest photo tech I’ve ever seen, the Google Pixel 6 has a magic eraser. In the simplest terms: you can remove things from photos. Almost anything, in practice.

By selecting elements of the photo, the Tensor chip and the phone’s AI can then erase whatever you don’t want from the image, but fill in the space with what would look real or normal, had the person or thing not been there.

It takes a couple minutes to get going, but this demo from a movie set designer is a great example of what can be done to photos in real time. Aside from the eraser, new long exposure features have me really excited.

I also love the idea of capturing the light trails of cars, boats or planes as they streak across a frame, rather than just unpleasant or uninspired blur. Google’s very well done product videos give a great example, where falling water can be smoothed out.

Travel Integrations Too

For the last few years, it felt like Google was getting lapped by Apple on its wallet features. The Apple Wallet integrates seamlessly with mobile boarding passes, hotel room keys and now even government ID’s, but it felt like Google was struggling to go beyond credit cards in the Google Pay app.

Google is specifically calling out better functionality and intuition from the Pixel 6 phone around mobile tickets, boarding passes and other features. Operating on the new Android 12, these things should work like widgets which are easily accessible in transit.

Pixel 6: Travel Dream

In a phone, I’m really seeking a visual companion for my journeys. I want something that can capture wide, narrow, artistic and other, in a way I can look upon fondly.

I’m also looking for something that simplifies journeys, be it with the live transit news offered in Google Maps, or the predictive widgets about when to leave for the airport. This phone has all these basics in droves, but also brings features no other phone has, and offline too.

Travel with Google Fi and Google Pixel was already pretty good, but by nearly every review I’ve seen, this is taking things to a new level.

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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  1. My problem is choosing between the Pixel 6 and the Pixel 6 Pro. I can get the 6 for $600-200 store credit+earbuds (Visible).

    Pixel 6 – $400
    Pixel 6 Pro – $700

    Is the telephoto worth 75% more?

    1. For me, I am no expert, but I’ve just always been skeptical of all extreme zooms on cameras. I think if that was a deciding point, i’d just rent or buy a DSLR for the day (like a safari) but otherwise wide and standard make sense for me.

    2. Not just the telephoto lens. Better front camera, 12GB vs 8GB RAM, much better screen, 120Hz adaptive refresh, bigger battery and better build and finishing.

      1. The Pixel 6 Pro does have a larger screen. However, the size of the Pixel 6 and the Pixel 6 Pro are not that different.

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