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Pixel 4 tidbits: Face unlock security, ‘new’ Google Assistant details, more

Google’s Pixel 4 seems like the company’s best smartphone outing to date, but there are details that didn’t quite make the keynote. Here are a few Pixel 4 tidbits you might have missed, like some interesting details about face unlock security.

The ‘new Google Assistant’ will only work in the US

One of the biggest new features on the Pixel 4 is the “new” Google Assistant. Using an on-device model, the Assistant can process commands almost instantly and back-to-back. That means you can ask your phone to look up a picture on Photos, share it with a friend, and then send a message alongside it all without touching the display.

Unfortunately, the new Assistant is going to be highly restricted. Android Central points out that the feature will be only working with English US at launch, meaning other countries that see the Pixel 4 won’t be able to access the faster speeds. Shame.

Yup, Face Unlock is fast, but it might not be super secure

Google ditched the fingerprint sensor on the Pixel 4 and as a replacement, it’s using only face unlock. On most other Android phones this would be a really bad idea, but Google has invested in more secure facial recognition sensors on this device. The company even claims it is the fastest face unlock system available today and, in early testing, we’ve seen just how ridiculously fast it is.

A support page from Google details some of the benefits of this face unlock system on the Pixel 4 such as being able to unlock from any orientation. However, the security of the Pixel 4’s face unlock is a little bit questionable.

A thread on Twitter reveals that the face unlock system can be used even if the recognized face is asleep or even if they’re dead. This applies even for payments on the Play Store. We were able to dig into the Pixel 4’s settings to see if there was a setting to require a blink or some form of activity to authenticate the face, but there isn’t. It could be that this is an intentional move by Google to speed up the system as a whole.

Notably, there was a setting for this on some leaked Pixel 4 units, so it could be that Google is planning to eventually bring this to retail units. We’ll provide more details on that when they’re available.

Pixel 4 updates are guaranteed through 2022

It’s not a surprise at all, but Google recently updated its support pages to confirm 3 years of updates for Pixel 4. Both devices will get full OS updates and security patches through 2022.

‘Now Playing’ will recognize more songs

Android Police also found some neat additions to the “Now Playing” feature that will debut on Pixel 4. Google mentions on a support page that the feature should be able to recognize even more songs than it could previously.

The counts of songs recognized across Pixel 4 phones are aggregated using a privacy-preserving technology called federated analytics. This improves Now Playing’s song database so it recognizes what’s playing more often. Google can never see what songs you listen to, just the most popular songs in different regions.

pixel 4

Motion Sense turns itself off in unsupported regions

The use of Google’s Soli radar chip is a cool addition to the Pixel 4, but it won’t work everywhere. Some regions won’t support the Soli chip and, in those regions, the phone knows to just turn those features off as Android Police confirmed with members of the Soli team. That means you’ll lose the feature even if your model was imported from another region.

Pixel 4 isn’t coming to India

With the Pixel 4, Google also isn’t planning to launch the device in India. The past couple of Pixel phones have been sold in the rapidly growing region, but Google explains to Android Central that it skipped the launch this time around. Apparently, a big part of the decision was the fact that the Soli radar chip can’t be used in the country.

Google has a wide range of products that we make available in different regions around the world. We determine availability based on a variety of factors, including local trends, and product features. We decided not to make Pixel 4 available in India. We remain committed to our current Pixel phones and look forward to bringing future Pixel devices to India.

Car Crash Detection is US only for now

One potentially life-saving feature of the Pixel 4 is its ability to recognize if you’ve been in a car accident and even call emergency services on your behalf. However, that’ll only work in the United States for the time being as Android Police notes.

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Avatar for Ben Schoon Ben Schoon

Ben is a writer and video producer for 9to5Google.

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