How Google Pixel 4’s Motion Sense Works

Google’s Pixel 4 has been on the market for a few weeks now and with it came some pretty handy new features like the adored Recorder app and the gimmicky-but-impressive astrophotograpy mode. One exclusive feature causing a lot of discussion, however, is Motion Sense — allowing you to control your phone without touching and paving way for the controversial Face Unlock feature. Here’s what you need to know.

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What is Google Pixel 4’s Motion Sense?

The Pixel 4 will be the first device with a Soli, a motion-sensing radar developed by its Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) team, housed in the top bezel of the device. It detects small motions within a 180-degree angle of the phone using AI and the sensor.

Essentially, this feature allows you to undertake some pretty neat air gestures, giving you the chance to skip songs, screen calls and activate a screen unlock feature which scans your face.

That last feature, Face Unlock, isn’t exactly a new thing for most smart phones but with Google’s Motion Sense, it detects when your hand reaches toward and activates the face detection feature. In my experience of using the phone, this isn’t always as seamless as Google’s statements make it out to be but when it does work, it’s pretty convenient. Other times, the phone unlocks without me prompting it but Google has stated it’s continually working on improving it.

So, why are some people concerned with it?

In Google’s pursuit to make the Face Unlock feature seamless, it inadvertently made it a little too lax on how secure it was. Shortly after launch, users reported being able to Face Unlock devices with their eyes closed, prompting some heavy criticism around how secure Pixel 4 devices were.

Google has since responded to TechRadar to say it’s going to include a fix in an upcoming software update.

“In the meantime, if any Pixel 4 users are concerned that someone may take their phone and try to unlock it while their eyes are closed, they can activate a security feature that requires a pin, pattern or password for the next unlock,” Google confirmed to TechRadar.

“Pixel 4 face unlock meets the security requirements as a strong biometric, and can be used for payments and app authentication, including banking apps. It is resilient against invalid unlock attempts via other means, like with masks.”

Google maintains all Motion Sense processing data as well as sensitive biometric information remains on your phone in a security chip and is not sent to Google servers.

How do I switch it on and use it?

But if you’re not too concerned about the potential security concerns and would like to give it a whirl, here’s how you try it for yourself. Head to Settings and tap Motion Sense.

From there, you’ll be able to pick and choose which type of options you’d like to enable Motion Sense with. Feel like skipping songs but would prefer to keep the always-on display off? You can do that. Want to turn off call swiping but leave skipping songs on? No worries.

Otherwise, you might have to sit tight for a few months until Google gets around to launching an update addressing those security concerns.

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