Android 13’s Face Unlock on Pixel detailed

Android 13's Face Unlock on Pixel detailed

In April, it was reported that the Pixel 6 Pro was supposed to launch with Face Unlock, and now the Android 13 QPR1 reveals what the experience for the end user for Pixel Face Unlock would be like.

Android 13 QPR1 Beta 1 was released today and included several sequences describing what to expect. The new code is referred to as ‘Traffic Light’ found on Pixel 6 Pro running Android 13 QPR1 Beta 1, and similar considerations are not found on the Pixel 6 or 6a.

According to Google, “Face Unlock works best when there’s enough light, and you’re not wearing a mask or dark glasses.” Dark sunglasses, too, don’t work, but average specs are supported: If you usually wear eyeglasses, you can wear them during the setup.

This means that Google’s latest approach is camera-based – unlike Google Pixel 4’s hardware-based combination of IR cameras, dot projector, flood illuminator, and Soli Motion Sense. For the newer phones, there isn’t a need for any additional hardware, which dramatically differs from the Pixel 4’s, to speed up the entire process.

Instead, the Pixel 6 Pro’s front-facing camera notably supports dual-pixel autofocus (DPAF) to generate depth maps of your face. Simultaneously, Google credits Tensor as allowing faster, more accurate, and power-efficient face detection in photography contexts.

Meanwhile, DPAF appears on both the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro, but the smaller Pixel 6 only has a front-facing camera that does not support it. These technologies emerge to deliver the hardware underpinnings of this new Face Unlock.

The warnings ask you to “hold your phone at eye level” to start the scanning process, which replaces one previously used for the Pixel 4. Regarding accuracy, Google warns that Face Unlock is “less secure than a strong pattern, PIN, or password.” Its advisories include:

  • Looking at the phone can unlock it when you don’t intend to.
  • Someone else can unlock your phone if it’s held up to your face, even if your eyes are closed.
  • Your phone can be unlocked by someone who looks a lot like you, like an identical sibling.
  • In terms of day-to-day usage, Face Unlock requires you to “pick up your phone or tap the screen.”

Scanning probably starts when your phone switches from the always-on display (AOD) to the lock screen.

QPR1 will hit stable builds for Pixel devices in December 2022, while the Pixel 7 and 7 Pro are expected in October. The presence of the Face Unlock code in QPR1 could be a clear sign that it will indeed come to the Pixel 6 Pro after its debuts on the flagships.

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