When Steve Jobs launched the first iPhone in 2007, its most spellbinding feature—the one that set it aside from BlackBerrys and Nokias, and the one that may forever change the best way we interacted with our units—was the touchscreen. It just took a press of the fingertip, and an icon on display would spring open as if tapped with a magic wand.
Touchscreen tech has since turn out to be inseparable from nearly every “smart” interaction. Now we have interactive screens on our laptops and televisions and watches and refrigerators; children, so immersed in a touchscreen world, have been recognized to press on inanimate objects anticipating them to respond. The touchscreen has become ubiquitous; the touchscreen has turn into blasé.
So Google, in constructing its next phone, needs to introduce the next large thing: a way to control our screens like an orchestra conductor brandishing an invisible baton.
When Google’s next flagship smartphone, the Pixel 4, arrives this fall, it’s going to respond to a sequence of gesture interactions—a pinch of the fingers, or a wave of the hand—without the consumer ever needing to touch the display. Taken collectively, Google calls these controls “Movement Sense.” A teaser video shows a girl unlocking her new Pixel with a blink, then waving her hand to cycle through a collection of songs playing on her phone. The video is just a few seconds long. However, it calls to mind the way Jobs described the original iPhone: “It really works like magic.