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How to use the Pixel 8 Pro's thermometer to take the temperature of almost anything

In addition to accurately testing the surface temperature of objects around your house, the Pixel 8 Pro's sensors can take your body temperature too.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Google Pixel 8 Pro Blue (Bay) in hand
June Wan/ZDNET

I frequently have to check the temperature of the three aquariums in my home and the pond in my backyard. I used to depend on a kitchen thermometer (which also doubled as a cat play toy, thanks to the built-in laser pointer), but I found it wasn't always accurate, especially when trying to discern the temperature of moving water.

Yet when Google announced the Pixel 8 Pro would include a temperature sensor, I thought nothing of it. I figured it was just another gimmick the phone didn't really need. When my Pixel 8 Pro arrived, I didn't bother with the thermometer app.

Also: The best Google Pixel phones of 2024: Expert tested and reviewed

Until one day, when I couldn't find my trusty, laser-pointing, fun-time thermometer. I did, however, have my phone with me. So, I pulled out the device, searched for the thermometer app, opened it, and checked the temperature of our pond.

I was surprised at how easy and accurate it was. Since then, I haven't bothered with my old thermometer. 

The Pixel 8 Pro temperature sensor is very good at reading temperatures. Now that Google has added Body Temperature into the mix, your handset can take the place of those thermometers you're always losing.

With the Pixel 8 Pro Thermometer app, you can accurately test the temperature of:

  • Food and organic items
  • Beverages and water
  • Cast iron
  • Ceramic and glass
  • Matte metal
  • Shiny metal
  • Plastic and rubber
  • Fabric
  • Wood
  • Walls and windows
  • Body temperature

To get the most accurate reading, it's important to select the type of object you are checking. I've tested this and found the readings can be off by as much as three degrees when using the wrong category. Fortunately, the developers have made it fairly easy to switch.

Let me show you how to use the new Pixel 8 Pro Thermometer app, so you can get accurate temperature readings.

Also: My Google Pixel 9 wish list may upset some Android fans (but it'll be worth it)

How to use the Pixel 8 Pro's thermometer

What you'll need: The only thing you'll need is a Pixel 8 Pro phone. You won't find this feature in the Pixel 8 or any other Pixel phone, as the temperature sensor was only included in the Pixel 8 Pro.

1. Open the Thermometer app

The first thing to do is open the Thermometer app. You'll find this listed in the Android App Drawer of your Pixel 8 Pro.

The Thermometer app in a Pixel 8 Pro's App Drawer.

Look for the thermometer icon and you'll find the Thermometer app.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

2. Select Object or Body

The next step is to tap either Object or Body. This is important because the only way to get an accurate temperature reading is to select the correct entry. Also, by selecting Body, you can sync the data to your Fitbit-enabled watch. You can also enable voice assist and temperature guidance for the Body option, which isn't available for objects.

The main Thermometer app page.

If you don't see this page, you need to update Android.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

3. Tap 'Object temperature'

If you want to measure the temperature of anything other than a person, tap "Object temperature."

The first landing page of the Thermometer app.

Hopefully, Google will add a new category (like Living Objects) in the future.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

4. Open the category selector

At the bottom of the next page, tap Default.

Also: The Pixel phone camera was already the best, but these new features make it even better

The Default button at the bottom of the Thermometer app.

Although you can use Default, you'll find the app is more accurate if you choose the correct category.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

5. Choose your category

From the resulting pop-up, tap the category that matches the item you want to check and then tap Done.

The Pixel 8 Pro Thermometer app category pop-up.

Select the proper category for the object you want to test.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

6. Check the temperature

Place the phone at least two inches (5 cm) away from the object you want to test, and then tap the large blue button labeled "Tap To Measure." The app will immediately report the temperature of whatever it was you were measuring. If you want to re-check, tap the circle/arrow below the temperature and then tap the "Tap To Measure" button again.

An accurate reading from the Pixel 8 Pro thermometer app.

A successful measure of my office aquarium tells me I need to lower the temperature just a bit.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

7. Check body temperature

When you want to check your body temperature, the process is a bit different. First, you need to select "Body temperature" and then select your age range from the top-right drop-down. Next, make sure you know where the sensor is on the back of the phone (right below the LED light). Hold the sensor a few inches from your forehead and tap the app button. After tapping the app button, slowly move the phone to your temple (while maintaining an equal distance from your skin) within four seconds. The app will beep and you can then check your temperature.

I've found the Pixel 8 Pro temperature sensor to be as accurate as my old kitchen thermometer. Given my phone is almost always within reach, using this tool is far more convenient.

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