Google has announced a budget-friendly version of its Pixel 4 smartphone, placing a strong emphasis on its imaging, AI, and security capabilities.
The device, priced at $349, features an AI-enhanced, HDR+ camera system supporting the Portrait Mode, Top Shot, and Night Sight camera modes found in the Pixel 4. Its AI technology, meanwhile, is smarter than ever: the device can now caption English language video and audio, and the Google Assistant is conversant in French, German, Italian, and Spanish, in addition to English.
As for security, in announcing the device, Google noted its Titan M security module, the hardware security module introduced in the Pixel 3. But the company emphasized a new physical security feature called ‘Personal Safety’, which is designed to detect car crashes and to send real-time emergency notifications.
Curiously, Google’s announcement made no mention whatsoever of the Pixel 4a’s authentication security. With its launch of the Pixel 4 last autumn, Google had made a big pivot from fingerprint-based authentication to a 3D facial recognition system allowing end users to unlock their devices and log into apps with a selfie. The newest device does not appear to feature a fingerprint sensor, and presumably maintains the Face Unlock system, though Google is evidently shy to promote it.
Part of the explanation may come from the escalating controversy over how facial recognition is used in public, particularly by police organizations. This kind of biometric surveillance is quite different in means and purpose from face-based authentication, but it may be that Google wants to avoid any mention of biometrics or facial recognition at this time.
In any case, in announcing the Pixel 4a, Google did touch on another hot topic in tech – 5G. The company said that it’s planning to launch a 5G version of the Pixel 4a this autumn, as well as a 5G Pixel 5 smartphone.
Source: The Keyword