Google teases face recognition and motion gesture tech coming to the Pixel 4
After the Pixel 3 and the Pixel 3a, comes the Pixel 4. Google is expected to fully unveil its next flagship smartphone around October time, based on past history, but it's just teased two new features arriving with the handset: face unlock and motion gestures.
Unlocking your phone with your face isn't new, but few phone makers invest in the sort of depth-scanning front-facing cameras that give you the level of accuracy and reliability that something like Apple's Face ID does – technology good enough to replace a fingerprint scan, in other words.
That's what Google is promising with the Pixel 4. As soon as you reach for your phone, the face unlock algorithms will kick into action, drawing data from a regular front-facing camera, two infrared cameras, and an infrared dot projector for mapping the contours of your face.
"If the face unlock sensors and algorithms recognize you, the phone will open as you pick it up, all in one motion," says Google. "Better yet, face unlock works in almost any orientation – even if you're holding it upside down – and you can use it for secure payments and app authentication too."
This is all made possible with the help of another innovation coming to the Pixel 4, a motion-sensing radar chip called Soli. This has been in the works at Google for years, and essentially means you can interact with the phone without touching it. The phone will be able to sense that it's about to be picked up, and can turn on face unlock detection.
"Pixel 4 will be the first device with Soli, powering our new Motion Sense features to allow you to skip songs, snooze alarms, and silence phone calls, just by waving your hand," says Google. "These capabilities are just the start, and just as Pixels get better over time, Motion Sense will evolve as well."
The new details about the Pixel 4 come the month after Google officially confirmed the phone's existence. While this sort of hype-building teaser campaign has been seen before, the big guns in the phone world – Samsung, Apple, and Google – tend to keep quiet until launch day. Not Google in 2019.
Besides the details announced today and the official shot of the phone's rear camera array, plenty of unofficial leaks have appeared online too. According to some of the more reputable tipsters in the business, both a standard and XL phone will be released again this year, with slightly bigger dimensions than the 2018 models.
The deep notch that characterized the Pixel 3 XL has apparently been removed, though both the Pixel 4 and the Pixel 4 XL will have a relatively large top bezel to accommodate all those face unlock cameras.
Either the Snapdragon 855 processor or the slight Snapdragon 855 Plus upgrade should be running everything on the Pixel 4, which will no doubt arrive with Android Q on board. There could well be many more advance reveals – official and unofficial – before the phone is launched.