The Google Pixel 4, on paper, has some of the most secure facial recognition you can get in a smartphone. It has all the necessary components that put it on par with Apple’s iPhone line, and it’s secure enough to do things like authenticate payments. But there’s one glaring issue with the tech that’s keeping it from being a true Face ID alternative: you can unlock your phone if your eyes are closed.
This isn’t necessarily a big deal. After all, chances are slim you’ll ever have your eyes shut to purposely unlock your phone. But if you’re sleeping or keeping one eye closed to prevent someone from getting into your phone, that person will still get in since the Pixel 4 won’t look for awareness before activating the rest of its sensors.
Leaked images of the Pixel 4 before it was unveiled had a setting called “Require eyes to be open” that would require the phone to detect awareness before unlocking. But for some odd reason, the feature didn’t ship with the early units that were seeded at Google’s launch event, and chances are it isn’t on the phones that will begin shipping to customers this week.
Luckily, Google has put an end to their silence surrounding this issue. The company has begun issuing a statement to the press (including The Verge) where they say an awareness requirement setting will roll out to Pixel 4 owners “in the coming months.”
If you ask me, if the feature was in leaked images of the Pixel 4, I don’t see a reason why it’s gonna take multiple months to get it ready for prime time. Sure, the feature could’ve been in some sort of beta form when the images were captured, but for the feature to arrive in “the coming months” seems a bit odd. Google’s probably done most of the ground work for the feature, so why not release in “the coming weeks” such as with the November 2019 security patch?
I’m sure Google has their reasons, and I’m pretty confident the feature will eventually ship. But it still sucks that for at least a month or two, Pixel 4 owners will be left with a security hole that’s just not present on other phones, like the iPhone 11.