It seems that ultra-wideband or UWB is the new fad in mobile and IoT markets these days. The wireless communication technology is being used in smart home devices and smart trackers because of their ability to know a device’s location and even orientation. Apple and Samsung are among the first to put this technology to use in their latest phones but it seems that Google might be following suit as early as the Pixel 6 later this year.
Google isn’t exactly one to quickly jump on new trends. Some might even say it takes too long to implement already common features. That said, it sometimes tries to even create a new trend, like its ill-fated, one-time sonar-based Project Soli tech on the Pixel 4.
According to XDA’s Mishaal Rahman, Google might be implementing support for UWB in Android 12. That in itself is a good thing since it makes a UWB API standard across the platform, allowing any and all smartphone makers to support the technology. Where it is testing that feature, however, may be even more interesting.
The tip says that it is being tested on “raven”, which isn’t just the codename for a future Pixel phone. Specifically, it is used to identify a Pixel phone running on Google’s rumored own Whitechapel Arm chip, a.k.a. the GS101 or Google Silicon. In other words, this UWB support could debut on the Pixel 6 later this year, which is believed to be the first to use that custom processor.
That said, it’s the first time we’re hearing about this feature, so there’s no assurance on the timeline of its release. It will also be interesting to see where Google plans to use UWB, as it doesn’t yet have smart speakers or smart trackers that utilize the technology. Then again, Google did suggest it has new Nest products to announce at I/O 2021 this month and those might be part of that reveal.