Google's next smartphone, called the Pixel 4 and set to be released this fall, is rumored to feature new hand-tracking technology, the most recent bit of gossip about the handset, which will go up against the Samsung Galaxy S10, OnePlus 7 and iPhone 11, also expected later this year.
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This latest Pixel 4 rumor comes from Ice Universe, a Twitter account with a good track record for smartphone leaks and tips. The account posted images of what is claimed to be the front panel of the Pixel 4 and 4 XL phones, showing cut-outs for several sensors and front-facing cameras.
It is highly likely the phones will get two cameras (just like the Pixel 3 XL did), and a large opening on the right side suggests something new will also be installed into the phone. This lines up nicely with recent rumors that the Pixel 4 will use hand-tracking technology related to Google's four-year-old Project Soli.
First announced at Google's I/O event in 2015, Project Soli uses radar for mobile devices to track hand movements and gestures. 9to5Google previously reported that 2019 will be the year that Project Soli reaches consumers, and that it'll do so via the Pixel 4.
"The oval opening of the Pixel 4 Series front panel means that the Google Pixel 4 Series will be groundbreaking and new and worth looking forward to," said Ice Universe not mentioning the technology directly.
Hand gestures are used by the LG G8, which uses a depth-of-field sensor to track the hand. Gestures are used to get the phone's attention, then play or pause music, adjust the volume, and interact with a handful of apps in a very simple way. The technology doesn't work all that well, and felt unfinished when we tried it out at Mobile World Congress earlier this year.
Hopefully, Google and its Project Soli technology can offer a better solution, and one which feels less like an unnecessary gimmick.
We can see hand gestures being useful when you want to interact with a phone, but not touch it. Someone who works with their hands could control music hands-free, or decline a call without touching the handset. That said, we hope Google has come up with more uses for the technology, especially given how much space it will take up in the phone's already large bezel.
We will find out for sure when the Pixel 4 gets announced later this year, likely in October.