In an unusual move, Google recently confirmed rumours about the look of the Pixel 4. Following on that, Google has yet again taken an unprecedented step and announced that the upcoming Pixel 4 will have FaceID and will be powered by Google’s Project Soli.
Pixel users who were hopeful about an all-screen design or a hole-punch display will have to wait for long as Google showcased another top bezel, but this time it was packed with sensors and a radar chip for Soli.
Google announced the feature in a blog post and called it an “early look at the technology behind two new features coming to Pixel 4 that make your phone more helpful and represent a next step in our vision for ambient computing.”
Soli/Motion Sense is powered by a radar chip, as mentioned above. Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects team (ATAP) had been working on making the radar chip smaller for the past five years; and it seems like the company has finally found a way to do so, as Google iterates the same in a video.
“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. These capabilities are just the start, and just as Pixels get better over time, Motion Sense will evolve as well.”
Pixel 4’s Face Unlock vs. Apple’s Face ID
Face unlock has been on Android for a few years now. It used the phone’s selfie camera and just captured a 2D image of the face. This tech was easy to bypass and definitely not secure enough until Apple introduced Face ID on the iPhone X. Before Apple’s iteration, Google themselves called the feature a gimmick and one that you shouldn’t use if you value security.
However, the Face Unlock on the Pixel 4 is supposed to be way better than Apple’s. Android Authority has called it the face unlocking you’re not used to seeing. Google claims it’s making improvements over Apple and other manufacturers who offer face unlock.
“Other phones require you to lift the device all the way up, pose in a certain way, wait for it to unlock, and then swipe to get to the homescreen. Pixel 4 does all of that in a much more streamlined way. As you reach for Pixel 4, Soli proactively turns on the face unlock sensors, recognizing that you may want to unlock your phone. If the face unlock sensors and algorithms recognize you, the phone will open as you pick it up, all in one motion.”
Another area where Google has made improvements is that the Pixel 4 will use two face unlock IR cameras as compared to the iPhone’s one. Along with a dot projector and flood illuminator, it looks like the Pixel 4 is taking a page out of Apple’s playbook. Google says it’s making some improvements over Apple’s implementation, though, with faster activation.
How secure is Pixel’s Face unlock?
Google has claimed that the image data will never leave the phone or shared with Google services. Soli data will also be treated similarly and will not leave the phone.
“Security and privacy are core principles for Pixel. Face unlock uses facial recognition technology that is processed on your device, so that image data never leaves your phone. The images used for face unlock are never saved or shared with other Google services.”
Motion Sense will be available in select Pixel countries
While the feature will be a great addition to the Pixel 4, it may not be available in all countries. Soli operates on a 57-to-64GHz frequency band, which may not be permitted in all countries. Recently, Google had to get the FCC in the USA to lift power limitations in those bands so Soli could work better. However, other nations may not be so kind and hence, the Soli capabilities may be turned off.
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