What just happened? Google is looking to squeeze a Kinect-like array of sensors in the forehead of the upcoming Pixel 4, enabling things like face unlock and small hand gesture recognition. As the phone gets closer to release, the company is pre-announcing these features to get people's attention, but whether it will live up to its promises remains to be seen.
While other companies like Samsung and Microsoft are known for their "accidental" leaks, Google doesn't have a record of revealing its products ahead of launch. That changed last month, when the company went ahead to confirm the Pixel 4 and tease its design, without giving away too much.
Now it seems it's so excited about the upcoming Pixel 4 that it couldn't help but reveal a few more key details about it. Just as Oppo and others are busy showing off their notchless, bezel-less phones, Google is doing the exact opposite. Its new phone will have a large forehead that will house some rather exciting hardware.
First, it looks like the Pixel 4 will have a face unlock feature just like modern iPhones, and unlike any other Android phone currently on the market. The company says it also doesn't require you to hold it up in front of you, which is a nice touch if it proves to work as advertised.
Perhaps more important will be the recognition speed, as Face ID is notorious for being slower than a fingerprint sensor, and also less convenient for some. Google took a jab at Apple by touting that face unlock on the Pixel 4 will happen "all in one motion" as you pick it up, thanks to an interesting mix of hardware sensors.
Google says it will also allow you to use face unlock to make secure payments with the Pixel 4. And since privacy is becoming a key selling feature for Apple's iPhone, Google mentioned that face recognition data will stay on your phone, securely stored in the Titan M security chip.
Another big feature touted in the official video is called Motion Sense, powered by a motion-sensing radar dubbed Soli. The company didn't reveal many technical specifics but says the Pixel 4 will be aware of when you're nearby and allow you to do things like silence phone calls, skip songs, or snooze alarms by waving your hand. Motion Sense data will also be stored in the Titan M, and Google promises to evolve Soli to recognize finer gestures like the ones it demoed not too long ago, such as rubbing your fingers to simulate turning a dial or sliding an object.
Google is expected to launch the Pixel 4 this fall with the Motion Sense feature becoming "available in select Pixel countries," likely because it needs regulatory approval for the radar-based technology.