HTC hasn’t been doing too great for the last few years, but that hasn’t stopped the company from being able to produce some pretty great phones from time to time. The HTC U11‘s squeeze feature seemed like it would be a one-off gimmick, but it’s since made its way over to the Google Pixel 2 and Google Pixel 2 XL thanks to the close work between HTC and Google. Called “Active Edge” on the Google Pixel 2, the feature lets you squeeze the frame of the device to launch Google Assistant and silence alarms, timers, notifications, and incoming calls. It’s not as customizable as Edge Sense 2.0 on the HTC U12+ (at least, not officially), but it gets the job done. For those of you who are fans of the feature, we have some good news—we have strong evidence that suggests it’ll return on the Google Pixel 3 and Google Pixel 3 XL.
Now, for those of you who are screaming “of course it’ll come back,” keep in mind that Google has some history of removing existing features in later smartphones. Wireless charging, which was present on the Google Nexus 4, Google Nexus 5, Google Nexus 6, and Google Nexus 7 (2013) was removed on the Google Nexus 5X and Google Nexus 6P (and all subsequent Google Pixel phones.) The headphone jack, which Google famously made fun of Apple for removing during the Google Pixel and Google Pixel XL unveiling, was removed from the Google Pixel 2 and Google Pixel 2 XL. We didn’t think they would remove Active Edge, but the possibility was still there since there was no confirmation otherwise. Since acquiring HTC engineers involved in the making of the Pixel 2 as well as intellectual property rights from HTC, it seems like Google has what they need to continue implementing the Pixel 2’s squeeze feature in future smartphones. It’s just that this time around, the Google Pixel 3 will be manufactured by Foxconn.
The Evidence for Active Edge on the Google Pixel 3
Our first bit of evidence came from our tipster, XDA Senior Member meraz9000, who published the first ever real-life pictures of an alleged Google Pixel 3 XL prototype. He shared more pictures and details with us, such as the smartphone likely has a glass back (it’s definitely not plastic or metal, he says). He couldn’t confirm whether wireless charging was present, but we dug through Android P beta 2 (Developer Preview 3) and found evidence for wireless charging docks, which we believe are for the Google Pixel 3, so make of that as you will. He did report to us that, before he accidentally soft-bricked the device (which is why his leak showed the device on the bootloader), he reported testing Active Edge by squeezing his phone and that the phone vibrated. I believed his information is credible, but just to be sure, I decided to dig around in the latest Android P Developer Preview to find any corroborating evidence. And I did.
Within the SystemUIGoogle APK, the “WakeMode” class has been slightly modified with some new code. “WakeMode” is a class located under /com/google/android/systemui/elmyra/gates. Elmyra is the codename for Active Edge, by the way.
Within this class is a method called isWakeSettingEnabled. This method checks for the value of Settings.Secure.assist_gesture_wake_enabled. If it returns ‘1’, then that means the squeeze gesture should also wake the phone from sleep. If it returns ‘0’, then a squeeze won’t wake the phone. You can’t just set this value to ‘1’ on any phone and expect it to work, though. Obviously, your phone needs to have a squeezable frame…and also, the method itself checks whether your device is compatible. It just so happens that this method has added code to check “
ro.product.model“, a system property value that defines the name of the device. On the Google Pixel 2 XL,
ro.product.model=Pixel 2 XL) “Crosshatch” and “blueline” are two product models that the method checks against. We already know that “crosshatch” is the Google Pixel 3 XL from the earlier leak, so we’re assuming that “blueline” is the smaller Google Pixel 3.
Left: Google Pixel 3 XL prototype on bootloader screen showing “crosshatch” codename.
Right: Google Pixel 2’s Active Edge settings showing “Allow when screen is off” (Settings.Secure.assist_gesture_wake_enabled)
Therefore, it’s not too hard to draw the conclusion that the Active Edge squeeze function will be returning to the Google Pixel 3 and Google Pixel 3 XL. It’s possible that it could be scrapped before final production starts since our information is based on an engineering prototype sample and code found in Android P Developer Preview 3, so if anything happens that contradicts our claim we’ll be sure to let you all know. Until then, stay tuned to the XDA Portal for more information on the Pixel 3!
Rojenx is a leading concept artist who work appears in games and publications
Check out his personal gallery here