With the announcement of Pixel 4, Google showed off one of the main features called Motion Sense. This feature used a number of air gestures on Google’s proprietary Soli chip to access shortcuts on the phone. Among the many things this feature could do it could control music to skip tracks and detect when you were picking up the phone.
Unfortunately, the entire feature did not perform very well. Most of the time the phone was not able to pick up on the motions or properly interpret them. Most users left the feature off and it was hailed as a gimmick rather than a usable feature. But instead of getting chalking Motion Sense to failure Google decided to work on it so the feature would become widely used and approved by users.
As of February 2020, Google announced updates to the Motion Sense feature for the first developer preview of Android 11. Google worked on refining the already existing gestures and added a new play/pause gesture for controlling music.
The initial gestures for controlling music included a swipe motion for skipping tracks. Swipe your hand to the left to skip to the next song in your playlist and swipe to the right to go back to the previous one. This motion could be a bit tricky at times since you had to get the distance from the phone and speed just right. If you did it too slowly the phone would not register. However, with the release of Android 11, these gestures have become more sophisticated. You will receive a lot fewer failures with the motion than before when it was first released.
In addition to the skipping gesture, Google has added a light tapping gesture to pause or play your music. Just like when the Motion Sense was first released there is a learning curve with this motion. You need to do a light tap in the air like touching an invisible screen instead of an intentional tap like pressing a button.
The other Motion Sense gestures have become a lot more accurate. For instance you can snooze your alarms by moving your hand over the display. This will snooze the alarm for a few minutes instead of completely turning it off. It does not matter if you move your hand from the left to right or right to left. The display will recognize the motion.
This motion only works with the Google Clock app that is pre-installed on the phone.
You can dismiss incoming calls by using the same motion as the alarm. When a call comes up on your phone simply swipe your hand to the left or right and the ringing will stop. This does not make the call disappear from the screen, but it will turn off the ringer for that call.
Not only can you control music with Motions Sense, but you can also control videos. The same gestures that you use to skip, pause, or play music can also be used on YouTube. This also works with a number of other media apps.
Since the launch of the Motion Sense feature, there has been a mixed bag of reactions. For some, the gestures worked easily but for others, it was like playing charades to get the feature to work. Now with the launch of Android 11 the feature has improved immensely. The gesture are more easily detected by the phone and interpreted more accurately. This will most likely mean that the Motion Sense feature will no longer be dubbed a gimmick and become a highly used feature by Android users.