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Here's why you'll want to squeeze the Google Pixel 2

Reports suggest the next Google Pixel may boast a squeezable frame. Why would you want that?

Josh Miller/CNET

The Google Pixel 2 is coming later this year -- and we're hearing it may have a "squeezable" frame. 

What the heck does that mean?

You can squeeze the HTC U11 for an extra layer of functionality.


It's like a phone you can squeeze

With a squeezable frame, you can literally grip the sides of your phone tightly to activate a shortcut to a certain feature or to launch a specific app. Think of it as an extra button that's built into the borders of your phone.

Squeezable phones already exist: the first was the HTC U11, which just arrived last month. The frame of the U11 is pressure-sensitive, and by holding it tightly you can launch the camera, the flashlight or a shortcut to an app of your choice. The U11 also lets you calibrate how much pressure the frame needs, so no need to worry about crushing your phone with your superhuman grip.

For a video of how this works on the HTC U11, click here.

So what about the Pixel 2?

Earlier this week, a report out of Android Police gave us our first rumored details about the successor to the Pixel XL. While the report focused on what the phone might look like, it also mentioned that the Pixel 2 XL (or Pixel XL 2) might be squeezable. According to Android Police, the phone will launch the Google Assistant — Google's virtual AI helper featured on the Pixel -- when you squeeze its sides.

Now, another report — this time from XDA Developers — corroborates this rumor and claims the squeezable frame will be a way to launch Google Assistant even if the screen is off. That would be similar to the Bixby button on Samsung's Galaxy S8 or the Siri home button shortcut on the iPhone. If Google's phone doesn't require a physical button, it could make for a sleeker design.

According to XDA, you may also be able to squeeze the frame to silence an incoming call. That's something I would use all the time.

Are squeezable phones the next big thing?

One smartphone by a medium sized Taiwanese manufacturer doesn't exactly make this a trend, but Google could draw more attention to the feature with the Pixel 2. And as phonemakers try to maximize screen size by shrinking bezels, physical buttons are often the first thing to go — just look at the Galaxy S8 or the LG G6.

Squeezable frames could potentially replace physical buttons or give your phone an extra layer of navigation like Apple's 3D Touch. Since the feature is inside the phone, it shouldn't add any bulk or bumps.

When will the Pixel 2 arrive?

Last year Google ditched its Nexus brand for the Pixel. Since then Rick Osterloh — Google's hardware chief — has confirmed that a Pixel follow-up is coming this year. Osterloh didn't specify when, exactly, but the original Pixel was announced in October. If Google follows a yearly phone release schedule, we could see the next Pixel phones this fall -- and possibly give them a squeeze.

Google did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Now playing: Watch this: HTC U11 is the first phone you can squeeze

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