Well this is disappointing… it turns out the new way to unlock your Pixel 4 phone – face unlock – really isn’t that secure. In fact, if you’re asleep and someone points your phone at your face – voila!
The documentation on the Google Support page does in fact state this and follows up by telling users to keep their phone secure:
Your phone can also be unlocked by someone else if it’s held up to your face, even if your eyes are closed. Keep your phone in a safe place, like your front pocket or handbag. To prepare for unsafe situations, learn how to turn on lockdown.
I like face unlock, and I’ve used it on my last few phones – but those phones as well as the review device in my pocket today (which isn’t a Pixel phone) don’t unlock without checking that the user’s eyes are open. This is a common feature of face unlock systems developed by other Android OEMs and on Apple’s iPhones, and it’s a disappointing omission.
Lockdown, Google’s suggested solution for this problem, disables all biometric authentication systems on the phone meaning whomever’s trying to access your device needs your screen unlock pattern/pin/pass to get into the device.
Personally I’m not happy with this implementation. Nor, it seems, are many of the users who are testing out ways to get into Pixel phones that aren’t intended, with plenty of examples starting to appear on social media.
— Chris Fox (@thisisFoxx) October 15, 2019
In a statement to the BBC, Google said that face unlock will continue to be improved over time. Hopefully this means making it secure enough to not require it to be locked away when you’re asleep.
This isn’t the first issue with Pixel 4’s face unlock to rear its head – earlier today we wrote of how Pixel 4’s face unlock doesn’t replace fingerprint authentication in most available apps.