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Google disabled Pixel 4 USB-C video output in the source code

As time goes on, the Google Nexus 5 looks truly ahead of its time. Back in 2013, Google’s own Android handset not only boasted wireless charging, but video output over a wired connection via SlimPort. While the former finally came back with the Pixel 3, the latter is still missing – but apparently its been deliberately disabled on the Pixel 4.

As spotted by xda developers’ Mishaal Rahman, the DisplayPort Alt Mode over USB is disabled in the kernel source code. This setting, he added, has been supported by Qualcomm chips since 2017’s Snapdragon 835.

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This is a little baffling, given the Pixel handsets are typically the place to see new and exciting Android features getting showcased, and version 10 includes a Desktop Mode. There was even hope for a time that Google would be including its own rival to Samsung DeX where the phone becomes a surrogate desktop with a little help from a Bluetooth mouse and keyboard. This, sadly, was one rumour that turned out to be nothing.

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Google hasn’t given an explanation as to why video over USB-C has been disabled, though cynics will assume it has something to do with ensuring Chromecast sales remain healthy. Without a wired connection, sharing a screen with Chromecast remains the most convenient way of putting Android up on the big screen, after all. 

But without official comment from Google, that’s just speculation. It’s equally probable that the company found performance too buggy, and didn’t want people’s first taste of Pixel as a makeshift PC to by disappointing enough never to try it again. In any case, it’s interesting to note that Google was apparently once toying with the idea, even if it didn’t come to anything.

Would you like to put Android onto the big screen via a cable, or is it a feature you’re ambivalent about? Let us know on Twitter: @TrustedReviews.

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