Google in recent times has been incredible porous when it comes to their phones pre-release. This year has been no exception and not for the first time this year Google has decided to get on the front foot and tease details themselves before they were revealed by others.
On their Made by Google YouTube channel Google has released a video titled “(Don’t) hold the phone: new features coming to Pixel 4”, showing the Pixel 4 in action. You can see it unlocking by using the face which is not all that clever but it does it in the dark and without lighting up the display like others do it. The video also shows gestures being used to navigate the phone — air gestures without touching the device.
In a blog post Google detail how the new functionality and how it was created. The face unlock and the motion-sensing radar gestures (Soli) are the reason for the massive top bezel with there being an extensive array of sensors located here.
The radar included in the phone works the same way the radar everyone thinks about when they hear the word (plane detection) works but this is of course a “miniature version”. The sensors at the top of the phone sense small motions around the phone “combining unique software algorithms with the advanced hardware sensor, so it can recognise gestures and detect when you’re nearby.”
The new Soli gestures called Motion Sense will allow the user to skip songs, snooze alarms (this could make a lot of people late, including me) and silence phone calls with just the wave of a hand near the device — for now. Motion Sense will apparently continue to evolve with “these capabilities just the start”.
Interestingly, Motion Sense will not be available in all countries with Google stating that it “will be available in select Pixel countries” — most likely due to radar regulatory approval.
Face unlock may be a familiar feature for smartphones, but we’re engineering it differently.
Yes, Google have combined Soli gestures to streamline their face unlock. When you reach for the Pixel 4, Soli will turn on the face unlock sensors and the phone will unlock/open as you pick it up, “all in one motion”. Whether this means Google will forego the fingerprint sensor is of course yet to be seen but we’ve seen Apple do it so it would not be a first.
Google are also saying that their face unlock is secure enough to be used for secure payments and app authentication as well. The facial recognition is processed on the device and that image data never leaves the phone, stored on the Pixel’s Titan M security chip and is never saved or shared with other Google services. Soli sensor data is also all done on-phone with the data never saved or shared with other Google services.
So there was a reason for that huge ugly bezel at the top of the Pixel 4 that we have seen in leaks. Google are once again looking to hit the ball out of the park with their software innovations and features and if it works as advertised it could be the start of something big with their new Soli gestures. If it doesn’t you may well be left with a phone that is difficult to unlock.
You may not like the look of the new Pixel 4 with its bezel but since when have Google made the prettiest devices? The Pixel 4 is looking to be yet another innovative phone from Google due to its software. Google, you do you.