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Google Pixel 6 event recap: All the big Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro news

The Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro are now available to pre-order — here's what to expect from the new phones

pixel 6 and pixel 6 pro in hand with tree in background
(Image: © Tom's Guide)

It's the morning after the night before of the official full reveal of the Google Pixel 6 and Goggle Pixel 6 Pro. And we have some fresh tidbits of information to share with you, from how the Pixel 6 eraser mode works to why the Pixel 6 Tensor chip is big deal

But we've also had our chance to play around with the new Pixel phones. So check out our hands-on Google Pixel 6 review and Google Pixel 6 Pro review to read our first impressions on both the handsets; make sure to keep an eye on Tom's Guide for out full reviews coming soon. If you like the sound of these phones then check out our guide on how to pre-order Google Pixel 6.

As for the main event itself, here’s everything Google announced. 

Google Pixel 6 ($699): In addition to the new Tensor chip, the Pixel 6 gets a new 50MP camera that captures 150% more light. You also get a 6.4-inch display with 90Hz refresh rate, faster charging and a bigger battery than Pixel 5. Plus, there’s cool new camera features like Magic Eraser.

Google Pixel 6 Pro ($899): The Pixel 6 Pro features 6.71-inch display and Google has confirmed a 120Hz refresh rate along with three rear cameras. You get a 50MP main lens, 12MP ultrawide and 48MP telephoto with 4x optical zoom and 20x Super Res Zoom, plus a bigger battery than the regular Pixel.

Google Pixel Pass: Google didn't talk about this during its hour-long virtual event, but there's a new Pixel Pass, which is a $45/month subscription for the Pixel 6. (Pixel 6 Pro owners will pay $55.) Pixel Pass gives you a new phone along with preferred care for the device; you also get subscriptions to the Google One, YouTube Premium and YouTube Music Premium and Google Play Pass services. After two years, Pixel Pass holders can upgrade to a new Pixel device. Here's a closer look at whether Pixel Pass is worth it.

Sadly, both the rumored Google Pixel Watch and Google Pixel Fold were missing in action. But going by the rumors so far, we can potentially expect them next year. 

Refresh

Despite the fact that Google has already revealed a lot about the new phones, there's still plenty we don't know. Much of that revolves around the new Tensor SoC; leaked Pixel 6 benchmarks have given us an idea of how fast it might be, but we suspect that's only telling half the story.

It'll be fascinating to find out just what the new silicon is capable of — and why Tensor could be a game-changer for the Pixel 6.

google pixel 6 tensor

(Image credit: Google)

Regardless of how fast Tensor is, we know it will enhance AI and machine learning (ML) on the Pixel 6. Photography will be one of the main areas that benefits from that, and we've already seen multiple leaks around new features such as Magic Eraser and Face Unblur.

Google Pixel 6 Pro

(Image credit: Jon Prosser x Rendersbyian)

So what else do we know about the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro's cameras, beyond the fact that they'll get some exciting new software features?

Well, Google has already confirmed that the Pixel 6 will have both a main sensor and ultra-wide camera. The Pixel 6 Pro, meanwhile, adds a 4x optical-zoom telephoto lens. Google also says that the main wide-angle sensor now lets in 150% more light, but it isn't sharing any details beyond that. 

Google Pixel 6 back

(Image credit: Evan Blass)

A bunch of rumors and leaks have filled in many of the gaps left by Google. For instance, findings within the code of the latest version of the Android Camera app suggest that the main camera on both phones could feature the 50MP Samsung GN1 sensor. 

That was further backed up another Pixel 6 Pro leak, which claimed that the ultrawide-angle camera will use a 12MP sensor while the telephoto lens will be 48MP. The below leaked image of the Google Pixel 6 Pro's cameras from Evan Blass lends further credence to the claimed specs.

A diagram of the Google Pixel 6 Pro's rear camera block, showing main, ultrawide and telephoto cameras

(Image credit: Evan Blass)

It looks like some hands-on leaks of the Pixel 6 are doing the rounds on Twitter. How much of a leak they are is arguable given Google has already shown off the design. But we get to see the the phone in the hand; just tricky to tell if this is the standard Pixel 6 or Pixel 6 Pro. 

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Price leaks for the Pixel 6 have also popped up, with one claiming the Pixel 6 Pro will cost £849 in the U.K. That's not cheap but it's some £150 cheaper than flagship phones from Apple and Samsung. 

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There's even an early Pixel 6 unboxing video on Twitter. It's not exactly in-depth, but it's yet another look at the Pixel 6 in the flesh, or metal and glass. 

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There could be a pretty sweet pre-order bonus at Target after the Google event today, as the retailer is set to offer the Pixel Buds A for 99 cents with Pixel 6 pre-orders

In our Pixel Buds A-Series review, we praised the wireless earbuds for their build and finish and their smart features. And for 99 cents they are a complete bargain. 

Google Pixel Buds A-Series on their case

(Image credit: Future/Ian Morris)

One of the questions we have is whether we'll see the Google Pixel Watch today. It's long been rumored but the tips are sporadic and it's tricky to build up any compelling idea of whether the Watch will make an appearance at this event or won't arrive until 2022. 

James Tsai's concept design for the much rumored Pixel Watch

(Image credit: James Tsai)

The Google Pixel Fold has a big question mark over it. There have been murmurs that Google could reveal a foldable phone before the end of 2021, so this would be the event to do it. 

However, there haven't been any last minute leaks so far, though Roland Moore-Colyer is keeping his fingers crossed for the Pixel Fold as he reckons it could be the phone to stand up to the rather good Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3

a Google Pixel Fold render

(Image credit: MacRumors render)

Google has an advert that promotes the Galaxy Z Fold 3 and how Android software can adapt to foldables, so there could be some form of foldable news at the Pixel event.

Will it be the Pixel Fold? Maybe, maybe not. But if nothing else Google could talk up how Android will offer better support for fordable phones, especially since there are hints that other major Android phone makers are going to get in on foldable phones.

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Looks like Google could be going big on pushing the Pixel 6 out to customers. But is it being too ambitions? 

Speaking anecdotally, we've not seen a vast amount of Pixel users out in the wild, as least not with the flagship Pixel phones, with most tending to use iPhones or Samsung Galaxy handsets. Our own Philip Michaels has penned his thoughts on what the Pixel 6 needs to do to avoid being a flop; time will tell if Google can achieve this. 

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One thing the Pixel 6 is likely to bring to the table is the slickest take on Android yet; basically, Google's idealized vision of Android. 

Leaked adverts have shown off some smart features, like Live Translate for real-time speech translation and Magic Eraser to smartly remove unwanted objects or people in photos. 

If you are already considering getting a Pixel 6 then the rumored Pixel Pass might be the way to go, if you're a heavy user of Google's services. 

According to the leaks so far Pixel Pass will offer a Pixel 6 and access to YouTube PremiumPlay Pass and Google One, all for a monthly subscription fee. We don't know the pricing for this yet, but it could be a smart way to get a new Android phone alongside a trio of desirable Google services. 

In other tidbits of unconfirmed Pixel 6 news, the Pixel 6 Pro could be Google's fastest charging phone to date, with it tipped to get a 33W wired charging. That's hardly the most powerful of chargers, when the likes of the Oppo Find X3 Pro have 65W charging. But it's a solid boost over the Google Pixel 5

an image of Google Pixel 6 Pro in a person's hand

(Image credit: Google)

Are there particular Pixel 6 features you're looking forward to? We are keen to see what Google has done with the cameras, but we also hope to see a surprise or two. 

Let us know what you think by tweeting @tomsguide (opens in new tab)

Here are some more images of the Pixel 6 in action, albeit sanitized promotional images. What do you think of the design?

Some of us at Tom's Guide rather like it, with the big black camera bar standing out from the camera bumps seen on other Android phones. But equally, beauty is in the eye of the beholder, as we'd be interested to see how the Pixel 6 Pro measures up against the Samsung Galaxy S21 Ultra

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It looks like we many not get to see the Google Pixel Watch after all, as regular tipster Jon Prosser has claimed the Pixel Watch own't arrive until early 2022

a Google Pixel Watch render based on leaks

(Image credit: Front Page Tech)

Thus is neat: someone has posted what the Google Weather widget will look like with Android's new Material You design. Expect it to come with Android 12 but be slickly integrated into the Pixel 6. It looks rather good in dark mode. 

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Going by Google's advert on the Made By Google Twitter account, Material You will be the centerpiece for Android 12 on the Pixel. And we're looking forward to seeing how deep the customization runs, especially if it's helped out by Google's machine leaning expertise. 

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While the Pixel Fold could be the biggest surprise of the Pixel 6 launch event, we'd welcome a new Pixel-branded laptop. The last few Pixel tablets and laptops were merely OK, so ideally a follow up to the excellent Pixelbook would be great, 

How likely is that? Well, as we've not heard any leaks around such a device, so not very. But we can still remain optimistic. 

What Google device would you like to see get a refresh or a reboot? Tweet us @tomsguide

an image of the Google Pixelbook

(Image credit: Google)

While we wait for more Pixel 6 event tidbits, we took a closer look at the unboxing video that's been posted prematurely to Twitter. There's not a great deal to glean from this but it looks like there won't be a charger in the box. 

That means Google could follow the example of both Apple and Samsung, and require users to buy their own charging bricks. 

Five Google Pixel 6 renders next to each other, showing off different menus within Android 12.

(Image credit: Evan Blass)

One thing to keep an eye on after the Pixel 6 is announced today will be how quickly Google can turn around orders. The entire world seems to be suffering through supply line issues, with the tech industry getting hit particularly hard.

A Google Pixel 6 in a Google-made case sitting face-down on a table

(Image credit: Evan Blass)

Look no further than Google rival Apple, where iPhone 13 shipping delays mean it will be at least a week before you can get a new iPhone in your hands; in some cases, the delay stretches into mid-November. It's the same situation with the newly announced MacBook Pros, where models with more custom options are shipping much later.

Can Google avoid a similar situation with the Pixel 6 and whatever else it announces today? That's what we're interested in finding out. Nikkei reports that Google has asked suppliers for 7 million Pixel 6 models, so it seems like there should be plenty of phones on hand.

Whatever else Google announces three hours from now, we expect some sort of basketball tie-in. Earlier, the company announced that the Google Pixel is the "official fan phone of the NBA."

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What does that mean exactly? We're not sure, but we hope it means celebrity cameos during the Pixel Fall Launch event.

If the Pixel 6 appeals to you when it's announced later today, you're going to face another choice — Pixel 6 or Pixel 6 Pro? The latter phone will surely cost more than the standard Pixel 6 (though how much we won't know for another couple hours, at least officially.)

Google Pixel 6

(Image credit: Jon Prosser x rendersbyIan)

We did a Pixel 6 vs. Pixel 6 Pro comparison last month based on the rumored features as well as what Google had already announced, and the two phones are likely to have a lot of key features in common, such as the Tensor chip and Android 12.

But there are some key differences, and we don't need to wait until Google's big reveal to go over them, since many of these features have already been put out there. Back in August, for instance, it was revealed that the Pixel 6 Pro will have the larger screen (6.7 inches vs. 6.4 inches for the Pixel 6) and the faster refresh rate (though both phones will have screens that refresh faster than 60Hz, we're told). Also the Pixel 6 Pro has a telephoto lens to go with the standard wide and ultrawide angle shooters, though we're still waiting for official word on how big the sensors are. We'd anticipate a bigger battery in the Pixel 6 Pro to keep that larger screen powered up.

In terms of buying decisions, then, if you like bigger displays, you'll likely gravitate toward the Pixel 6 Pro. And if zoom shots are part of your photographic repertoire, there's no beating a dedicated telephoto lens.

Of course, we don't know prices yet, and the price gap between the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro could be the ultimate factor in deciding which phone you should get. Stay tuned.

Android 12 has been around in pre-release form most of the year, with Google previewing the software during its developer conference this spring. So if you live and breathe Android, you're probably well aware of all the changes coming with the new version.

But if you're only vaguely aware of Android 12 and its new features, you've got some time to catch up on the highlights before the Pixel 6 launch brings Android 12 to Google's new phones. Our Android 12 guide goes over the big changes headed to Android phones, with Google's own devices first in line to get the update.

Android 12

(Image credit: Google)

Among the highlights will be the new Material You interface Google is rolling out and a more prominent role for widgets. Google is improving the Quick Settings in Android 12, too, and you can expect more privacy-focused features. All of these changes should be front and center on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro.

It's no secret that Google has struggled to break out from the pack of other phone makers, let alone challenge the dominance Samsung and Apple enjoy at the top of the smartphone market. That's surprising in the sense that Google's camera performance is usually among the best we see in a smartphone, and cameras are very important to smartphone shoppers. On the other hand, the rest of the Pixel hardware tends to be pretty lackluster, so maybe it's not so shocking that Google has yet to really make a splash with any Pixel flagship.

Google Pixel 6 on display in NYC Google store

(Image credit: Future)

We're going to guess that the Tensor chip and the unique look of the Pixel 6 — both features that have already been revealed, by the way — represent Google's latest efforts to emerge from the rest of the pack and carve out a niche for itself. Will it do the trick for you? Let us know at @TomsGuide on Twitter (opens in new tab).

We know that the focus of Tensor is on enabling features that benefit from machine learning and artificial intelligence, but chipsets also garner attention for how they perform. That's going to be especially true of Tensor since the Pixel 6 will be the first phone powered by this Google-designed silicon.

Google Pixel 6 Pro

(Image credit: Future/TechRadar)

Leaked benchmarks suggest that the Tensor chip will be in the ballpark of what you get from Qualcomm's Snapdragon 888, currently the system-on-chip of choice for leading Android flagships. Don't expect performance to get anywhere close to the A15 Bionic chip powering the latest iPhones, though. Our reports on the latest leaked Geekbench scores for the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro have more details.

It would be very unusual to hold a press event for a product launch where many of the details about the product are already disclosed and not have another device or two to show off. Yet, at this point, that's what Google seems to be doing. We know that we're seeing the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro today, but the most likely candidates to join those phones — the Pixel Fold, Pixelbook 2 and Pixel Watch — haven't leaked in nearly as much detail.

Pixel Fold concept design shows a look similar to the Pixel 6

(Image credit: Waqar Khan/Let's Go Digital)

A while back, I wrote about the possibility of Google offering just a tease of the Pixel Fold, even if the foldable isn't ready to ship, and I still think we could see that today.  But it seems more than likely that Google will just concentrate on the Pixel 6, Pixel 6 Pro and nothing else, based on the rumors building up to the event.

Any time there's a Pixel launch, it's worth re-examining Google Fi, the Google-backed wireless service. While Google opened up Fi to other phones a while back, using one of the Pixel devices means you can seamless switch between Wi-Fi and the different networks (T-Mobile, US Cellular and what's left of Sprint) that Google Fi uses, depending on which has the strongest connection.

Google Fi

(Image credit: Future)

Google Fi has one of the best unlimited plans in our estimation, especially if you do a lot of traveling. While we'd expect other carriers to offer the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, if you're in the market for a new wireless provider and you're planning on getting a new Pixel, this may be the time to consider Google Fi.

We're less than an hour away from the Pixel Fall launch event, but apparently Google can't wait that long to start selling its new phones. Our colleague Tom Pritchard just got this tweet from Google. 

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We did head over to the Google Store, and there's no mention of the Pixel 6 or Pixel 6 Pro just yet. We're guessing Google's marketing team just got ahead of the people handling the big phone announcement.

We spoke too soon. There is a Pixel 6 promo on the Google Store website ahead of today's launch event, but it doesn't contain any information that Google hasn't already disclosed.

Google Store Pixel 6 promo

(Image credit: Google)

Half-an-hour to go before the Pixel event. Time for some wrong-in-public predictions.

google pixel fall launch for pixel 6 header image

(Image credit: Google)
  • Pixel 6!
  • Pixel 6 Pro!
  • Pixel Stand!
  • A Pixel Fold teaser!

And that's it. I really see this event as Google's opportunity to introduce us to Tensor, and I imagine that's what the bulk of the show will be spent doing.

Google's launch event gets started at 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT... and so apparently do Pixel 6 pre-orders, based on this Made by Google tweet (opens in new tab).

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More last minute reading to do on the Pixel 6, including the top features to watch out for.

  • Tensor chip: How's it going to impact your daily phone use?
  • Camera features: What software-powered smarts is Google showing off this year?
  • Battery: Are the rumors about faster charging true?
  • Android 12: How will the Pixel 6 showcase the software's new features?
  • Price: Oh, man, do we hope those rumors about a low-cost Pixel are true.

If you get hyped for product launches by watching ads, then the live feed of the Pixel Fall Launch event is the place to be.

And we're underway — with the video of someone going about her day using the Pixel phone, and her voice to control all sorts of Google products. That includes on-device translation, which we assume is Tensor-powered.

Rick Osterloh, the person in charge of Google's hardware is talking about the guiding principles behind Google devices. That includes ambient computing, which means the information you need is always around you.

Sorta Seaform Pixel 6

(Image credit: Google)

The difference this year, Osterloh says, is that Google is using state of the art hardware highlighted by Tensor.

We're kicking off with the Pixel 6 prices — the Pixel 6 is $599, which is a terrific price. (That's $100 less than the iPhone 13 mini.) And yes, Google is touting the Pixel 6 Pro, too, as its first truly premium phone.

Google Pixel Event Tensor chip screenshot

(Image credit: Google)

The Pixel 6 Pro is $899. That's also a very good price — $100 lower than comparable phones from Apple and Samsung.

The event started with Osterloh giving an executive summary of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro features — it's a lot of what already has been rumored or even confirmed by Google. Now we're going into each part of the phones, starting with the design.

Google Pixel 6 Pro

(Image credit: Google)

If you've seen the phones, you'll know that these look a lot different than what Google has provided before. That includes the horizontal camera bar and the two-tone color options Google is offering. 

Pixel 6 is available in black, seafoam and coral colors. Pixel 6 Pro features white, black and a gold-ish color.

The Pixel 6 has a 6.4-inch display with 90Hz refresh rate. The Pro features a 6.7-inch screen with 120Hz refresh rate.

Google Pixel 6

(Image credit: Google)

More design notes: The phones are made out of recyclable aluminum as Google strives to make its products carbon neutral. (Cases are made with recycled materials, too.) The phone is more durable, too, with IP68 water resistance and Gorilla Glass Victus on the display.

The idea is that your phone is designed to last longer, so that you're not being forced to upgrade every couple of years. That could be Google responding to how smartphone users are already behaving, though.

Google Pixel 6 Pro

(Image credit: Google)

Now it's time to talk about Android 12 and how the Google Pixel 6 can work together with Google's phone software.

The new Material You interface includes wallpaper that adjusts to the look of your phone. If you've got that sunny Pixel 6 Pro, for example, the wallpaper will reflect that, as well the icons.

Google Pixel 6 and Material You at Pixel Event.

(Image credit: Google)

The At a Glance screen can surface information as you need — workout stats when you're on a run or your boarding pass when there's a flight on your schedule. Widgets also play a prominent role in the Android 12 interface, too.

Google Pixel Event Material You presentation on Android 12.

(Image credit: Google)

As for security, there's a real security core on the Tensor chip separate from applications, and a Titan M2 chip that works with the security core to protect user data. Google says the Pixel 6 has the most layers of hardware security in any phone.

Tensor also allows 5 years of security updates, which is a first for Google and its phones. That's not necessarily the same as Android updates, but it's a step in the right direction.

The Pixel 6 has a security hub that gives you easy access to your security settings and a privacy dashboard for checking out which apps are accessing features like the microphone and camera.

Google Pixel 6 with Titan M2 chip at Pixel Event.

(Image credit: Google)

Now it's time to talk Tensor, which Google says gives it the chance to do AI-driven smartphone innovation. Because mobile chips haven't been able to keep up with Google's expertise in machine learning, the company says it decided to create its own chip.

Tensor is optimized to run Google's ML models, with a dedicated Tensor Processing Unit (TPU). You get a 20-core GPU and 8-core CPU.

Tensor's GPU and CPU are faster than past Pixel phone (especially the Pixel 5, which used a chipset from Qualcomm's Snapdragon 7 series), but the point here is really the ML-driven features.

We're on to cameras, which is related to Tensor given the emphasis on computational photography. But first let's talk hardware — you get a 50MP main sensor on the Pixel 6 and Pixel Pro. The sensor captures 2.5 times more light than the Pixel 5 did.

There's a 12MP ultrawide camera on both phones, while the Pro has a 48MP telephoto lens capable of a 4x zoom. And the zoom works with Night Sight for low-light photography.

Google Pixel 6 cameras

(Image credit: Google)

In addition to the still camera features, expect better video — the Pixel 6 can record 4K video with HDRnet at 60 fps. That's another aspect of the Tensor powered computational photography.

Google Pixel 6 cameras

(Image credit: Google)

We're looking at camera features like Magic Eraser, which suggests objects and people in the background that are cluttering up your shot. Let's say you take a photo on a family vacation, only to have some passerby wander into the background. Magic Eraser recognizes that person may not be part of the shot and suggests removing them with a tap. (You can also manually select things to remove.)

Google Pixel 6 android

(Image credit: Google)

In addition to Magic Eraser, there's a new Face Unblur feature. Imagine you've taken  a photo of someone who's moving — a scenario that parents with kids won't have a hard time thinking up. Face Unblur uses multiple images shot by the Pixel's different cameras to remove the blur on someone's face so that the photo isn't ruined.

Motion Mode operates on a similar principle, letting you take action shots. The Pixel 6 will take multiple images then combine them together with stylish blurs — a subway train passing by your friend who remains perfectly in focus as an example.

A Quick Tap feature lets you tap the back of the phone to launch the camera. It's apparently tied into Snapchat, since Snapchatters want quick access to the camera.

Real Tone is an interesting feature that Google first talked about earlier this year. Cameras don't always accurately reflect skin tones for people of color. Google worked with image experts, colorists and others to fine tune how people appear in shots so that skin colors are more portrayed more accurately.

Real Tone is also coming to Google Photos and the auto enhance feature for editing images. Google is claiming the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro have the most inclusive cameras ever.

Google Pixel 6 event imaging collage

(Image credit: Google)

We're typing in these features as fast as we can, but our first look for the Pixel 6 Pro and the Pixel 6 hands-on go into greater detail on all the things Google is talking about here.

We've also got Pixel 6 pre-order info if you're already convinced this is the phone for you.

Google Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro

(Image credit: Tom's Guide)

Speech is also a focus on the Pixel 6, powered by Tensor. Google is hyping the new phone's ability to take dictation on text messages, even recognizing punctation and pulling info from your Contacts app so that you're mention the right people in a message.

The Pixel can also recognize commands like Clear and Send without those command showing up in your text messages.

Google Pixel speech to text

(Image credit: Google)

Tensor improves Call Screen by making it more accurate. When you make a call, your Pixel will show historic wait times, so you'll know if you're in for a long time on hold, and the phone can listen to menu options, displaying them on the Pixel's screen.

Live Translate features get a boost from Tensor with on-device, real-time translation right in the device. Essentially, the Pixel 6 can become an interpreter, translate videos as you watch them. And the text recognition features built into the Pixel's camera can be translated as well — helpful for travelers.

We have our first celebrity cameo with Marie Kondo, who's here to demonstrate the interpreter feature powered by Tensor. You can speak into your Pixel 6 and the phone will translate your speech into another language on the fly. The accuracy of the translation has clearly sparked joy in Marie Kondo.