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Google’s Pixel 4 rumored to support air gesture system


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Google’s Pixel 4 rumored to support air gesture system

Pause music and skip tracks with a radar-based air gesture system?

Project Soli in action.
Enlarge / Project Soli in action.

We're at least four months out from the typical Google Pixel smartphone unveiling, but that isn't stopping the rumor mill from churning. There are already a pair of reports pointing toward a Project Soli-based gesture system being in development for the Pixel 4.


First, a refresher on what the heck Project Soli is. The project has been in development for years inside Google's ATAP group, with the first public showing happening all the way back in 2015. Soli aims to embed a tiny radar system into a chip that can be used to detect hand motion above a device. Google demoed gestures like moving the thumb and index finger together for a virtual button press or rubbing the two fingers together to scroll or turn a dial. It has always seemed like something that would be a good fit for a smartwatch, where the tiny touchscreens and UIs limit how much can be done on with smartphone-style input.


Like many ATAP projects, Soli kept a low profile for years, and you would have been forgiven for assuming it was dead—until the project surprisingly gained FCC approval this January.



Now, about those reports. 9to5Google was the first to float the rumor that Google's next smartphone would be equipped with the radar-based gesture system, and then XDA Developers quickly followed up with actual code evidence. XDA has been tracking a feature in Android Q that uses an "Aware" sensor, which would be a good fit for a consumer-facing name for Soli. The latest Android Q betas allow for Aware-based control of lock screen notifications and gestures to skip and silence music.


Google has been experimenting with air gestures since the second-gen Moto X, which was equipped with IR sensors that would let you wake the display or dismiss alarms or phone calls just by waving your hand across the display.That feature, from before Google sold Motorola to Lenovo, was not useful enough to be brought forward to future Google phones. The Pixel line has been experimenting with weird input methods, too. Both the Pixel 2 and Pixel 3 are squeezable—sensors embedded in the sides of the device allow you to call up the Google Assistant with just a firm squish.


Does anyone out there want air gestures in their smartphone? If Soli does make it to the Pixel 4, Google has some work to do to convince everyone the feature isn't just a gimmick.




Source: Google’s Pixel 4 rumored to support air gesture system (Ars Technica)

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The AchieVer

Pixel 4 leak: 3 reasons Google did this

Apparently Google DGAF anymore.


The Pixel 4 -- really!


In a rare move by any tech company, Google confirmed the existence of the Pixel 4several months ahead its anticipated release in October. The tech giant not only posted the news on its own Made By Google Twitter account, but it also included an image of the phone, which depicts a square camera bump, with multiple rear cameras. Judging by the reactions from the tweet, many were taken aback by the information -- not due to the phone itself, but because Google decided to unveil the news at all.

To drop an upcoming device's name and an official image this early is unusual. Despite numerous rumors, rendered images and leaked specs, companies like Apple, Samsung and Google generally like to keep mum about their product announcements until they hold official events like Apple's developers conference and September iPhone event, Samsung Unpacked and Google I/O, where the company took the wraps off its latest Pixel 3A and Pixel 3A XL. Google declined a request for comment, but we have a few guesses why Google made such a bizarre move.

Reason 1: It can claim it didn't copy the iPhone 11

The most popular theory is that Google wanted to get ahead of any accusations that it copied Apple and its next iPhone. For several months, the upcoming iPhone 11 has been rumored to have a square camera bump too. Because the iPhone is expected to come out in September and Pixel phones usually launch in October, it would be easy to conclude that Google "copied" Apple's design. (BTW: The camera layout isn't altogether unique -- the Huawei Mate 20 Pro, for example, also has such a design.) To avoid such talk, Google could have decided to whip out the image early to say it had the design in mind long before the iPhone's launch, knowing that Apple will remain tight-lipped about any iPhone features until September.


Reason 2: The Pixel 4 might release earlier than October

Four months is a pretty long time to tease a product ahead of its assumed launch date. Perhaps Google unveiled this info in June because the Pixel 4 might actually not debut in October. Maybe the phone is coming earlier, like in September (to position it even closer in competition to the iPhone) or even August. This would be a strange move though, since the Pixel 3A and 3A XL were just announced in May and it'd be a good idea for Google to allow some time between announcements of its two phone series.

Reason 3: Google doesn't care anymore!

When Google announced the Pixel 3 last year, it was pretty much one of the most leaked phones at the time. Most outlets already had a general idea about what the phone would look like (Engadget unboxed the thing three days before its launch) and a lot of the rumored specs turned out to be accurate. Google even managed to poke fun at this fact before the Pixel 3's launch (see below). The same applied to the Pixel 3A. Due to all the leaks, people got wind that Google was working on a midtier variant of the Pixel, and we even peeped its new Purple-ish color before Google I/O.




Because we now live in such an era where it's so hard to keep a lid on product announcements, Google might have just decided to just say "screw it." If photos of the Pixel 4's camera was going to get leaked anyway (and it did), the company might as well jump on it, too. At least it can then get ahead of the news and control to some extent whatever narrative tech enthusiasts cook up. I, for one, welcome this energy and wouldn't mind more information from Google.





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