Google Touts Radar Control With New Pixel 4

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Launch of next generation flagship smartphone to challenge the iPhone comes with radar chip for gesture control

Google unveiled its new flagship smartphones at a launch event on Tuesday in New York, that also also saw the search engine reveal an update to its Chrome laptop line (Pixelbook Go) and also teased new Pixel Buds.

The main attraction was the arrival of the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL, which boasts features a Soli radar chip to enable more secure, faster facial recognition, as well as gesture controls.

In May this year Google surprised many with the launch of its new Pixel 3a and 3a XL smartphones, that are half the cost of its Pixel 3 handsets, which were launched back in 2018.

Look Mum, no hands!

The company opened up about the Pixel 4 in a blog post by Brian Rakowski, VP of product management at Google.

First off the Pixel 4 boasts improved cameras, as there are now two cameras on the back of the phone instead of one, including a new telephoto lens. These cameras are tucked into a square-like fixture on the top left of the device, much like the iPhone 11.

Google made a point of touting the Night Sight capability, after Apple made a big play on its low light capabilities of the iPhone 11.

A video of the Pixel 4 can be found here.

Rakowski said that Google has also redesigned Google Assistant “so it doesn’t take up too much room on your screen, letting you better multitask across other apps. It can quickly open apps, search your phone, share what’s on your screen, and more.”

The Assistant has also been tweaked to consider context when answering questions.

But perhaps the biggest stand out feature is the Pixel 4’s motion sense feature. This essentially “uses a miniature radar sensor to detect movement around your phone. It can sense when you’re reaching for the phone and will initiate face unlock, or turn off your screen when you’re not around.”

Users can swipe with their hands to skip songs, or wave hands to snooze alarms, dismiss timers, or silence the phone ringer.

The Pixel 4 will also dial 911 if the user has been involved in a car crash, thanks to a new Personal Safety app. A new auto-transcribing app that uses artificial intelligence will also translate audio into text in near real-time.

Under the hood, the Pixel 4 runs Android 10, and offers 6GB RAM, a 90hz display, and Pixel Neural Core. Pixel 4 also includes Google’s custom-built Titan M security chip to protect sensitive data and ensure the integrity of the operating system.

Users can pre-order a Pixel 4 at the Google Store for $799 and Pixel 4 XL for $899 in the US, and phones will ship on 24 October. There are three colours (Clearly White, Just Black, and a limited edition, Oh So Orange).

For the UK, the 64GB model is priced at £669, while the 128GB version is priced at £769. The larger Pixel 4 XL is available in the same configurations priced at £829 and £929.

Pixel Go, Buds

Google also updated its laptop range with the Pixel Go, which weights just two pounds and is 13 mm thin. Starting price is $649.

Pixelbook Go was built for people who are always on the go, and comes with a painted magnesium casing, backlit keys for easy typing, a bigger battery and 13.3 inch touchscreen. It comes in two colours, Just Black and Not Pink.

The other noteworthy arrival was the Google Pixel Buds, which gives also instant access to the Google Assistant.

“Pixel Buds have a low-profile look that sits flush in your ear,” said Google. “The stabilizer arc gently tucks in, and together with the interchangeable eartip, make Pixel Buds fit securely and comfortably, so they stay put even when you’re exercising.”

“Two microphones in each earbud focus on the sound of your voice while suppressing other sounds in the background, which extends to the most challenging environments,” said Google. “Pixel Buds have a voice accelerometer that can detect speech through the vibrations of your jawbone, so that you can be heard even in windy conditions, like when you’re running or biking.”

The buds comes with Bluetooth 4.0 and can be controlled via tapping or swiping. Five hours of listening time are promised on a single charge.

The bad news is that Google Pixel Buds will only be available next year in the US at $179, and will come in four colours: Clearly White, Oh So Orange, Quite Mint and Almost Black.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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