Essential founder Andy Rubin surprised the tech crowd this afternoon when he randomly Tweeted photos of a device with a “radically different form factor.” We still don’t know what to make of the device, but the Essential Twitter account has since posted additional pictures and told us where the state of the project is.
The device is currently called Project GEM and it has entered the product stage where it will be taken outside of the lab for testing by the Essential team. Essential says that this device will “reframe your perspective on mobile” and that they’ll be sharing more in the “near future.”
From the pictures, we can gather that the phone is indeed about the size and shape of a TV remote. In the original photos from earlier today, people were quick to mock the bezels, but the image at the top of the post shows a slightly better appearance. There’s a camera punchout in the top left corner too, plus volume rocker and power switch on the right side.
Its UI reminds me of Windows Phone with tiles and shortcuts and a vertically scrolling home screen layout. You can see a clock widget with AT&T and LTE logos, so this will most definitely work over cellular. There’s a Spotify widget, shortcuts for phone, messages, maps, and camera, as well as a bigger camera tile. There are pill or navigation-like marks in the bottom left and top right corners, as if to suggest there is more to this UI.
As for the back of the device, we have a large camera sensor with flash, that “colorshift material” that Rubin referenced earlier, and a circular area I can only assume is a fingerprint reader. There’s always a chance that area does more (like gestures), but there’s no way to tell from these photos. Finally, Essential has already built clear cases for this device, which you can see on top of that notebook.
This look interesting at all?