Google has created their own version of the face recognition unlock system for their Pixel 4 and 4 XL. Google’s system is similar to that of Apple’s Face ID technology and has changed their fingerprint authentication on the Pixel 4 to solely implement this method of phone unlock. However, there’s a huge privacy issue with their system: the phone can be unlocked even if your eyes are fully closed.
The phone can be unlocked by someone else if the device is held up to your face – eyes closed or not. The unlock system will also work if you’re asleep and someone wanted to unlock your phone without you knowing. Contrary to Google’s unlock system, Apple’s requires your eyes to be fully open to unlock, thus making it more secure for its device users.
Whether or not Pixel has intentions to add more security to the face unlock system remains unknown. A Google representative commented on the issue in a statement to The Verge, explaining: “We don’t have anything specific to announce regarding future features or timing, but like most of our products, this feature is designed to get better over time with future software updates”. With nothing yet officially announced, the privacy issue still stands, allowing a nosy friend or significant other to access a user’s device at ease.
As of now, the only way to combat this issue is a lockdown function equipped on Android phones. Lockdown can be accessed through the power menu, and once pressed, the device disables the face unlock feature until the user’s PIN code is entered. If you choose to do lockdown, notifications will not be displayed on your phone screen. Bluetooth devices also lose the ability to unlock the phone.