Apple and Google’s newest flagship phones – the iPhone 15 series and Pixel 8 line – boast some seriously impressive new features. But many of these cutting-edge capabilities are locked to the US market, leaving international buyers short-changed.
This unfortunate trend of US-centric feature exclusivity means you won’t get the full experience from these premium handsets if you live outside of the States. Read on to learn more about the key features you’ll be missing out on.
Call Screen and Live Voicemail – US & Canada Only
Two of the banner features for the Pixel 8 and iOS 17 are Call Screen and Live Voicemail. Both utilize advanced AI for next-level spam call blocking and voicemail transcription. However, neither work outside of the US and Canada.
Call Screen’s natural voice and enhanced spam filtering gives Pixel users a major upgrade to an already class-leading feature. Meanwhile, Live Voicemail instantly transcribes voicemails so iPhone users can read messages rather than listen to them.
But unless you’re in the US, you won’t benefit from these cutting-edge innovations in AI call handling. For the premium prices of the latest iPhones and Pixels, that exclusion feels unfair to international buyers.
Gboard Proofreading – Only for US English
Google’s Gboard keyboard on Android can check your messages for grammar errors before sending. But this handy proofreading is currently limited to US English, so those elsewhere miss out on having AI assist their typing.
Given Gboard’s advanced language capabilities, expanding proofreading to more regions seems an obvious move. Until then, it’s another case of the US getting preferential treatment.
Summarize is a Pixel exclusive that creates concise summaries from web pages with just a couple of taps. It’s an awesome feature, but is bizarrely limited to English only.
Since websites are available globally, it makes little sense to restrict Summarize this way. Let’s hope this restriction gets lifted soon so more users can benefit from AI-powered web summarization.
Why the Regional Restrictions?
Apple and Google have not clearly explained the reasoning behind limiting exciting new features like these. It seems unlikely technical hurdles are fully to blame.
Prioritizing English is understandable to an extent. But for trillion dollar companies of this scale, expanding language support to more regions should be achievable.
There may also be some carrier agreements involved, especially for iPhone capabilities like Visual Voicemail. But again, Apple’s bargaining power should help overcome those roadblocks eventually.
The reality seems to be that the US market is still the priority. Apple and Google launch their flagship phones there first, with international rollouts an afterthought. That’s disappointing when buyers worldwide pay similarly high prices.
Lack of Transparency Around Limitations
What makes this regional exclusivity worse is the lack of transparency from Apple and Google. They hype up new US-only features without clearly communicating that international buyers will miss out.
Buried spec sheet details are the only indication that something like Live Voicemail won’t work outside the US and Canada. That’s poor form when people are spending $800+ on a new handset.
Apple and Google should better set buyer expectations, even if it means less flashy launch presentations. Clearly highlighting product limitations as well as capabilities would go a long way towards fairness.
Hope for Expanded Availability
Hopefully Apple and Google will see the light and start expanding exciting new features beyond the US at a quicker pace.
For now, make your voice heard if these limitations bother you. Brands do listen to customer feedback, especially when premium sales are involved.
And always read the fine print to know exactly what you are and aren’t getting with any new device purchase. Don’t just take flashy launch hype at face value.
The latest iPhones and Pixels still have plenty to offer worldwide. But they undeniably fall short of their full potential when exciting capabilities are restricted by region. With any luck, future launches will finally bring the same level of innovation to all buyers, not just those in the US.