Now I hate rumour and speculation around a new device before an actual launch, mainly because a lot of the statements turn out to be wrong. Remember, for example, when we were all led to believe the iPhone 5 would arrive with NFC? – didn’t happen. So when I started seeing early reports of two new Google Nexus devices due to be announced in late September, which would come with Android 6.0 (Marshmallow), I read everything with a spoonful of salt (a pinch just didn’t cut it).
But, in recent days, I’ve now seen what is reported to be pictures of the new models which are expect to be named Nexus 5X and 6P, and something in that imagery got me excited.
With both phones, you get the usual bigger, better, faster specs that we’ve all grown to love about new devices, so that is no real surprise. But an image of the rear of the 6P (one of which you can see here) shows that there might be more than just a camera in the full width black bar – could it be a depth sensor which will mean Project Tango like functionality?
For the uninitiated, Project Tango came out of the secret Google Advanced Technology and Projects group (ATAP). It provides devices with the capability to determine a position in 3D space, as well as movement in that space, through the use of an RGB infrared pixel sensor mounted on the rear of the phone/tablet. Software allows the device to build up a temporary store of the environment the device is in, giving it a learning like quality. What this means is that you can then create really clever apps related to augmented reality, location capture, and more (the developer site gives lots of examples).
I’ve reviewed the few images I could find purporting to be leaked photos of this new 6P, but its very very difficult to see the panel in enough detail to make an educated guess. The standard camera lens and flash are clearly visible, but it seems strange (as an intentional design element) to have the bar right across. That said, on the Tango development kit there is a very obvious IR projector – could this have been hidden in some way in that black panel?
For the time being, we’ll have to wait and see because the official event to launch these new devices is on September 29th in San Francisco, and live on the YouTube Google account.