It looks as though Google's Pixel 4 "screen attention" feature will remain exclusive to that device, based on recent reports that Google only added code for the feature as a placeholder for other OEMs. Moreover, the company says it has "no plans" to release the feature either.
For clarity, screen attention is a display management feature. It utilizes the Pixel 4 front-facing 8-megapixel fixed-focus camera to keep the screen on. Screen attention works as long as it recognizes users are looking at their phones. That means the phone won't automatically shut off while in use just because there's no physical interaction for a while.
Now, similar features exist on a number of devices so it isn't at all exclusive to Pixel devices. Because that's the case, it isn't immediately clear why only the Pixel 4 series will get screen attention from Google. It may set Pixel 4 apart from its predecessors but doesn't quite accomplish that compared to plenty of other smartphones.
The feature does not rely on the Soli radar-based system in the Pixel 4 or Pixel 4 XL either. So the hardware in the Pixel 3, Pixel 2, or original Pixel series should be more than up to the task.
At least one Pixel 4 camera feature won't stay exclusive
Google may be dropping the ball on the Pixel 4's screen attention feature — and a few others such as Dual Exposure controls and Live HDR+ because those require the new hardware. But several other features are widely reported to be on the way for older Pixel handsets. Contrary to the idea that Google might hope to drive users to the new devices by withholding features, at least one of those is directly related to the cameras.
Specifically, there is a slight chance that older handsets won't receive Astrophotography mode. However, Google has said at least the Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a series handsets will.
A solid timeline for that is still very much up in the air but Astrophotography has quickly become one of the new phone's most popular features. So it's good news for Pixel 3 owners that it is in the works.
Summarily, the feature works by combining multiple exposures and providing a clearer, more well-lit view of a nighttime sky. In many cases, the model is able to reveal unseen stars and whisps of the galactic cloud we live in.
And a few more too
Live Captions features that deliver somewhat interactive captions over a video will be coming to Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a devices as well.
That's on top of a new AI-driven Recorder app that also provides live transcriptions of what it's 'hearing'. Pixel handsets will be privy to the newest iteration of Google Assitant and a wealth of other features too. There's no rigid schedule regarding when those will arrive but they are coming.
The biggest advantage of Pixel devices, in general, isn't changing either. Namely, Pixel 3 and Pixel 3a handsets will continue to receive their updates more quickly than most devices from the overwhelming majority of OEMs.
That includes both security changes and brand new features and functionality. So while it isn't immediately clear why Google is keeping screen attention exclusive to the Pixel 4, there isn't exactly a lot that's being missed out on.