Motion Sense is one of the new Pixel 4's new features enabled by the Soli radar sensor, which detects precise movement in close proximity to the phone. But it's been largely underutilized so far, with only a handful of gestures enabled that let you swipe above your phone to change songs and dismiss calls or alarms. Because of that, it's not a terribly compelling feature at the moment, but there are a few features we'd love to see that would make it vastly more appealing.
Being able to gesture left or right in front of the Pixel 4 to change tracks can be convenient, especially while it's sitting on a wireless charger or in a car mount, but there's currently no way to pause your songs ... which feels like a huge oversight. It's one of the first missing features I noticed when using Motion Sense for the first time, and one of the few things that LG got right with Air Motion on the G8 ThinQ.
Soli is still largely underutilized.
I'd love to see Google adopt the same action: hover your open palm in front of the display for a short second to play or pause music. Just like with the song-skipping gesture, I'd love for this action to work even with the display turned off, but I'd honestly take what I could get since at the moment, your only hands-free option is to call out to Google Assistant and ask it to play or pause a song.
Remember when Google first demoed Project Soli with a motion graphics-intensive preview video? One of the main purposes of the video was to show off just how precisely Soli could detect small movements with your fingers, demonstrated with a pinching motion as if you were rotating a small dial or knob. This seems like a perfect way to adjust volume during media playback — again, this would be particularly helpful with the phone in a car mount where you shouldn't necessarily be reaching over for the physical volume buttons.
In a similar vein, Soli's granular gesture detection could be used to easily adjust your display brightness. The Project Soli video showed off a number of gesture possibilities, I think the one that makes the most sense for adjusting brightness would be sliding your thumb across your index finger (as if moving a physical slider). Or maybe pinching your index finger and thumb together and moving your hand horizontally would work better, emulating sliding a fader on a mixer board. Whatever the gesture, adjusting brightness without having to first open the notification shade would be great.
Speaking of the notification shade ... why can't that be a gesture, too? Face Unlock on the Pixel 4 works great, and Soli makes it feel extra-quick by activating it the moment you pick up the phone, but something I really miss about the Pixel 3's rear-mounted fingerprint sensor is the ability to swipe down with my finger to pull down the notification shade. On the Pixel 4, you can finally swipe down anywhere on the home screen to access your notifications, but that doesn't help when you're in an app (you know, actually using the phone).
I'm not sure what the best gesture for this would be; simply swiping your hand downwards in front of the display would likely cause too many false positives, but I think extending two fingers up then swiping them down could work.
What else do you want to see?
Google seems committed to making Motion Sense work, and it'll presumably get better over time with future software updates to the Pixel 4. In the meantime, what Soli actions do you think would make the Pixel 4 better? And, realistically, what gesture actions would make them happen?
Google Pixel 4
Motion Gestures and two incredible cameras.
The Pixel 4 is one of the best Android experiences around, even if you don't use the Motion Gestures. It's first in line for new versions of Android, and features absolutely incredible cameras that take great photos in broad daylight or in the dead of night.
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