Google working on Pixel 4 face unlock issue "in the coming months"

Wednesday, 23 Oct, 2019

Google's Pixel series has always had some pretty wonderful computational photography features, and the latest is the new Astrophotography mode.

Among the concerns surrounding the phone's eyeless unlocking was that suspicious partners may scan their significant others' face and pore through the device while they're asleep. It uses infrared projectors and cameras to build and read a depth map of your face.

Until the fix is issued, concerned users can choose to activate PIN, pattern, or password-based unlocking system for their Pixel 4. However, unlike the iPhone, the Pixel 4's face unlock works even if a person's eyes are closed, which is a potential security issue Google says it plans to patch sometime in the next few months. If all goes well Google should offer the eye detection fix in the coming months. Google says anyone who is anxious about the security implications of users being able to unlock your phone while you're not looking can enable a PIN or password instead. Google's Made By Google Twitter account replied to a punter yesterday saying that these features require "low-level capabilities in the hardware that are only available on Pixel 4".

Despite this flaw and the criticism that comes with it, Google believes that the face unlock feature of the Pixel 4 "meets the security requirements as a strong biometric" since it can still block invalid unlock attempts through other means.

Google explains again that Face unlock is just as secure as Face ID, and that's not something anyone has disputed.

The Pixel 3, of course, lacks support for 3D Face unlock, so it's pointless to even try to enable the security feature for face authentication. It's called "lockdown", and it temporarily turns off fingerprint or face recognition unlocking (as well a notifications). Google suspended its program to investigate the complaints.