With the launch of the Pixel 4 Google seems to have found themselves guilty of a bit of previous short term thinking with their original Biometric API. It simply did not leave them the ability to easily integrate face unlock into the Android app ecosystem. As a result all developers need to update their apps if they want to support face unlock as well as fingerprint unlock.
With the release today of the updated Biometric API today that won’t happen again, hopefully. The new API includes the ability to to use face unlock, but also allows for the framework to be updated later to allow new methods of biometric authentication if and when they come along. Unfortunately, developers will still need to update their apps to this new library before Pixel 4 owners will be able to use biometrics on their devices.
The new API will also allow device manufacturers to declare what Biometric security they offer in combination with the device broadcasting what biometrics are available. Apps having the new API integration will allow future generations of Android devices to seamless work, at least that’s the theory.
Another big advantage of the API is the consistent handling of biometrics across the device, both from a security and a UI perspective. As with fingerprints before it, all future biometric unlocks will be able to hook into the system and present users with a consistent UI which should increase trust and reduce friction to using it.