Google's turning your Pixel phone into a dashcam

Smartphones are The Very Hungry Caterpillar of tech. And now they want dashcams for dinner

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A new Google Pixel phone feature sounds like it could be great news for drivers and terrible news for the best dashcam firms: code spotted in Google's Personal Safety suggests that a new dashcam mode is coming to Pixel phones and to some other best Android phones including the Nothing Phone (1).

The code, spotted by 9to5Google, is a new feature called "dashcam" that records video (and audio too, although that's off by default). It runs in the background so you can still use your preferred mapping app, music app or podcast app, and recording continues when you lock your screen.

This is a great idea, and I hope Apple steals it

I've experimented with in-car phone mounts ever since the first iPhone, and I've come to the conclusion that the best place for a phone is just beside the steering wheel and just proud of the dashboard. That turns out to be not just the best place for sightlines when you're navigating – I can see it when I need to but it doesn't dominate my field of view, particularly at night when even a little light can be too much – but a really great place for dashcam mode too. 

Of course, there are some dashcam things this can't do. It doesn't appear to offer front and back recording, and depending on your phone it won't have the same widescreen view of the road as a dedicated dashcam can deliver. If your phone mount is a bit wobbly you're going to be recording in super shake-o-vision. And of course, you're not going to leave your phone when you park the car so you don't get the parking monitoring that some of the top dashcams can offer. So far it's also unclear how widespread the compatibility will be, so we don't know just what phones will be supported.

But there are benefits too. You don't need to wire anything, and your phone can move from car to car in a way wired-in dashcams can't – handy if you don't own a car but rent or borrow from time to time. And if you've got one of the best phones, its camera is probably far superior to anything in a budget or mid-range dashcam too.

I think this is a brilliant idea, and I can't wait to see it in action. I also hope Apple copies it. 

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (