Google has revealed more details about the upcoming Pixel 4, including showing off two new features planned for the device.
The next generation of Pixel smartphone will sport a ‘Soli’ sensor, a miniature motion-sensing radar, as well as face unlock.
Google says its Advanced Technology and Products team (ATAP) worked on Soli for five years. The Pixel 4 will include the sensor at the top of the screen next to the earpiece.
The search giant said in a blog post that Soli will combine unique software algorithms and hardware to recognize gestures and detect when a user is nearby.
Pixel 4 will be the first device with Soli, which will power its Motion Sense features, allowing users to skip songs, snooze alarms and silence phone calls with a wave of the hand. Google says Motion Sense will improve overtime as well.
Motion Sense will only be available in “select Pixel countries.”
Along with Soli and Motion Sense, the Pixel 4 will offer face unlock. Google claims its face unlock hardware won’t need users to lift the device all the way, pose in a certain way, wait for the device to unlock or swipe to get to the home screen. Further, Google says it works from any orientation, even if you hold the phone upside down.
Soli can proactively turn on the face unlock sensors when you reach for the phone, and the device unlocks and opens when it recognizes you.
Google also touted face unlock’s privacy, saying that it processes everything on-device, doesn’t save images and doesn’t share them with other Google services. All the data is stored in the Pixel’s Titan M security chip. Soli sensor data is also processed on-device and not shared with other Google services.
Google shut down a secret Android location
Google: Have you ever been using your Android phone in a particular spot where coverage is spotty? On the flip side, have you ever used your Android phone and thought to yourself, “Wow, coverage here is awesome!” Chances are good, Google knows about both of those times.
In fact, according to a new report from Reuters, Google actually used that information to help U.S. wireless carriers know where their coverage was good — and where it needed some work. This program — known as Mobile Network Insights — was previously unheard of until Reuters obtained information about it.
However, the program itself is no longer operating since Google shut it down in April of this year. Although the company did not say as much, it’s a good bet that Google turned Mobile Network Insights off as a preemptive move against the public finding out about it and being displeased with its existence.
To aggregate all the information about network service, Google compiled anonymous location and service data from Android phones across the United States. It only obtained this info from users who gave permission for the company to do so (by opting-in to sharing location history and usage and diagnostics with Google when you first set up your Android device) and didn’t collect any personal identifying info about any users.
Despite the seemingly-innocuous service, which apparently was only ever intended to show to the wireless carriers, pretty much anything Google does with user data is under scrutiny at the moment. With Google making headlines over data collection this year — especially when it comes to things like the GDPR — it was a wise move for Google to shut down Mobile Network Insights before someone found out about it and made it public.
According to Reuters, the wireless carriers are unhappy with the removal of the service, though, as it helped them plan network upgrades.
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Sony acquires Insomniac Games
Well, make it official
Insomniac Games might work with Sony a ton, but they’re actually independent. Well, they were, until today that is. During Gamescom Sony announced that they’ve actually acquired the studio, having “entered into definitive agreements to acquire Insomniac Games, Inc.”
Sony details exactly what’s happening in the following statement provided to Destructoid (emphasis mine): “Upon completion of the acquisition, Insomniac Games will join the global development operation of Sony Interactive Entertainment Worldwide Studios (“SIE WWS”). Insomniac Games is the 14th studio to join the SIE WWS family. This addition furthers SIE’s continued commitment to creative excellence and innovation in game development exclusively for the PlayStation platforms. Building on a working relationship between Insomniac Games and SIE spanning more than 20 years, this acquisition enhances the creative force within SIE WWS and formally adds a studio to the PlayStation family that continues to raise the bar on open world, story-driven games. The day-to-day operations of Insomniac Games post-closing of the acquisition are expected to be run by the current management team in conjunction with SIE WWS San Mateo Studio.”
Spider-Man PS4 was a cash cow for Sony and it makes perfect sense why they’d want to lock up a studio who is reaching even greater heights than they have in the past. Given how close Sony keeps their studios close to the chest, any future games like the Xbox One-bound Sunset Overdrive or multiplatform releases like Song of the Deep are now likely pipedreams. I also wonder if all of their VR games (Edge of Nowhere, The Unspoken, Feral Rites, Stormland) will be making their way to PSVR at some point!
Also, Spider-Man 2 exclusively on PS4 here we come! This is a huge get for Sony and the next generation console war just got a little hotter.
Nintendo Says That Rumored Switch Exchange Deal Is Fake
So you know all those reports earlier this week about a Nintendo Switch exchange program? Yeah, turns out it was all a bunch of crap. The Verge published an official statement from a Nintendo rep on Saturday debunking the deal.
The unofficial (and now, unfortunately, confirmed untrue) offer was first noted on Reddit, where users claimed Nintendo officials agreed to swap out their current Switch for a new model so long as they purchased the console after the upgrade was announced on July 17. One Youtuber even faked a recording of a Nintendo rep confirming this deal over the phone. This updated Switch has only been officially announced to have a longer battery life, but players who have gotten their hands on the model have reported its boasts an improved screen and CPU as well.
Gizmodo reached out to Nintendo at the time to ask about the deal, but its phone line appeared to be overwhelmed by others wanting to know the same thing. Then Saturday, Nintendo provided the Verge with the following statement denying there ever was a Switch exchange program:
We do not have a Nintendo Switch exchange program. We always want players to enjoy their Nintendo Switch systems, and if anything ever gets in the way of that, we encourage them to visit http://support.nintendo.com for support, or to contact our consumer support team.
Whomp whomp. Many Switch owners (myself included) have griped about how the console has entirely too short a battery life (roughly two and a half to six and a half hours) for what Nintendo originally marketed as a portable system, so the promise of a free upgrade seemed too good to be true. And, as it turns out, it was.
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