Like many smartphone makers, Google includes some special features with its Pixel phones to help them stand out in the crowded mobile market. This week, though, we've learned that Google may be skipping two of its special features on upcoming Pixel phones.
First up, the Pixel 4a will reportedly not have Active Edge. This feature has been around since the Pixel 2 and it allows you to quickly activate the Google Assistant by squeezing the sides of your phone.
Active Edge is missing from the Pixel 4a that's been the star of recent video leaks, reports XDA-Developers' Mishaal Rahman. 9to5Google's Stephen Hall also reports that the Pixel 4a lacks Active Edge.
Google may be cooking up a replacement for Active Edge, though. The folks at XDA found references to a feature codenamed "Columbus" that'll let you do things like launch the Google Assistant, launch the camera app, play and pause media, and more, just by double-tapping the back of your phone.
This feature is expected to be special for Pixel phones and it reportedly won't require any special hardware, unlike Active Edge.
Can confirm that Active Edge is not available on @julio_lusson's Pixel 4a.
— Mishaal Rahman (@MishaalRahman) May 18, 2020
Also being reported this week is that the Pixel 5 will not include Soli and its Motion Sense gestures that debuted on the Pixel 4. 9to5Google's Stephen Hall has heard that the Pixel 5 will "likely leave behind hobbies like Soli".
On the Pixel 4, Google placed a special Soli radar chip in the phone's top bezel that enabled Motion Sense gestures that let you perform actions without touching your phone. Instead, you can wave your hand in front of your phone to do things like skip songs, play and pause music, snooze an alarm, and turn off a timer.
Soli and Motion Sense were part of the major new features of the Pixel 4 when it launched last year, but they don't really seem to have taken off with consumers and when we reviewed the Pixel 4 XL, we found that the gestures didn't work consistently enough to want to use them regularly.
Skipping Soli and Motion Sense on the Pixel 5 could also help Google keep costs down. We've heard that the Pixel 5 could start at $699, which is $100 less than the Pixel 4, and doing things like omitting the Soli radar sensor and opting for a Snapdragon 765 instead of a Snapdragon 865 would help Google get to that lower price point.