In a blog post aptly entitled, “(Don’t) hold the phone,” Google has given fans an insight into the imminent Pixel 4, which boasts a range of exciting new features.
Among the most revolutionary is Soli, the motion sense radar from Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects Team (ATAP) which has finally made the handset after five years in development. The hardware radar is located at the top of the handset, and works together with a combination of algorithms to recognise gestures and detect users’ presence.
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What does this mean? In short, you’ll be able to perform a host of tasks, including snoozing alarms, skipping songs and silencing phone calls just by waving your hand. The feature was teased in an incendiary tweet reading “Look internet, no hands” – in reference to the no-contact means of interaction with which the new generation of smartphone users can operate their phones.
Google is keen to stress that this is just the beginning for Soli’s Motion Sense, which, for all its sophistication is still a nascent technology. “Just as Pixels get better over time,” the company asserts, “Motion Sense will evolve as well”. Motion Sense will not yet be available universally, with the technology rolling out in a select few countries.
Another new addition to the Pixel 4 is its facial scanning tool, which will permit hands-free unlocking. Gone are the days users will have to use a thumbprint or passcode to access their phones; now just by dint of looking at your smartphone, it will unlock for use. While this is hardly a revolutionary feature on smartphones – facial recognition is used as far and wide as the iPhone XS, Huawei Mate 20 Pro and the OnePlus 6T – Google has made the technology far more streamlined.
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A far cry from having to hold your phone at a painfully specific angle just to get it to recognise your mug, Soli now proactively turns on face sensors as you pick it up, meaning the recognition – and subsequent unlocking – happen much more seamlessly. Plus, this can occur pretty much any angle: hold your phone upside down and there’s a good chance you’ll be recognised.
If you’re concerned that Google’s services might end up awash with your personal image data as a result, don’t be: Google’s new brand of face unlock technology is processed on your handset, so the data never leaves your device and is therefore not subject to broader hacking risks from Google’s other services.