Google has launched its latest competitors to the iPhone, the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL, with several new features including a new biometric face unlock that uses radar technology.
Embedded in the latest Pixel lineup is Google’s Soli chip, a radar sensor that Google has been working on behind the scenes for years now. It can detect the user’s presence and allow them to interact with the phone in various ways, from silencing an alarm or ringer and skipping music tracks, to interacting with a dynamic, animated wallpaper – all by waving their hand in front of the phone.
Google calls this technology Motion Sense, and it’s also at the heart of the Pixel’s new 3D face unlock, which is similar to the Face ID system found in the iPhone. When Motion Sense detects that the user is reaching for their phone it activates the screen and face unlock. From there, once the Soli chip detects the user’s face, the Pixel unlocks almost instantaneously.
The face unlock data is secured and encrypted end-to-end using the Titan M6 security chip, which is secure enough for payments and app unlocks.
The fact that Google has decided to ditch the fingerprint scanner in favour of face unlock is also a major indication of their confidence in the new technology. The fingerprint scanner has been a major feature for the Pixel lineup since its debut on the original Pixel back in 2016, not just in terms of security but also as a focal point for the Pixel line’s design language straight through to the Pixel 3a and 3a XL, launched earlier this year.
It’s also telling that Google has chosen to follow in the footsteps of Apple, as the Pixel 4 now joins the iPhone by choosing to place their user’s security in the hands of 3D face scanning as the only form of biometric security.
Samsung may be looking to join them shortly, as they filed a patent recently that may hint at the next versions of the Galaxy and Note line of smartphones featuring a sensor for face scanning next to their front-facing cameras. It is as yet unclear if Samsung will continue to include a fingerprint scanner as well, should they choose to move forward with their own version of 3D face scanning technology.
The Pixel 4 is available for pre-order now and will begin shipping on October 21st.
Sources: The Verge, The Guardian