The Pixel 4 ditches a physical fingerprint scanner in favour of a proprietary facial recognition tech that Google says is faster and also more secure than competition such as the iPhone’s Face ID. That said, just days after launch, it has come to light that Google’s face unlock can be hacked by just about anybody. Moreover, Google knows about this loophole, as it clearly notes in its official blog.
While Apple’s Face ID requires your attention by default – you need to be actively looking at the iPhone’s screen to unlock it – Google’s face unlock works even with your eyes shut and that can be a problem. There have been rumours that Google is working on a manual toggle to enable a similar functionality in the Pixel 4, but the fact that it’s not available at launch is surprising. Now, Google is actually working on the eye detection fix, but problem is, it isn’t coming anytime soon.
“We’ve been working on an option for users to require their eyes to be open to unlock the phone, which will be delivered in a software update in the coming months,” Google said in a statement given out to The Verge.
It’s surely a relief that such a thing is in the works, but Google still isn’t giving out a definite timeline of launch, so we’ll have to wait and watch out on that. In the meantime, the company is advising potential buyers to use Android 10’s lockdown feature for added security.
“If any Pixel 4 users are concerned that someone may take their phone and try to unlock it while their eyes are closed, they can activate a security feature that requires a pin, pattern or password for the next unlock.”
Despite the fact of its critical loophole, Google is still backing its face unlock saying it “meets the security requirements as a strong biometric, and can be used for payments and app authentication, including banking apps. It is resilient against invalid unlock attempts via other means, like with masks.”
Google’s face unlock uses hardware comparable to Apple’s Face ID. But, in the Pixel 4, Google is also using a Soli radar chip that makes its face unlock up and running in a jiffy – faster than Face ID. While all of that is nice, Google needs to do something about the security aspect soon because that’s the whole point of having biometrics in the first place.