Pixel 4 Face Unlock Works If You're Asleep (or Not Alive)

Yolanda Curtis
October 19, 2019

When the Google Pixel 4 was announced this week, it was revealed that it would be the first Pixel phone to not provide all users with free unlimited original-quality backups on Google Photos.

To avert any security mishaps, Google suggests that users enable the lockdown mode (Settings Display Advance Lock Screen Display Show lockdown option) every time they feel concerned. What this means is that someone can swipe your phone when you are sleeping to unlock it by holding it over your face.

Google's newly revealed Pixel 4 was met with excitement for several reasons, including the introduction of facial-recognition security. But the goal of having such hardware comes into question when it can unlock the phone even if the eyes are closed. Dual camera setup with some new features like Night Sight, astrophotography function, long exposures, and more. There is no fingerprint reader on the Pixel 4, so face unlock is the only biometric option.

Google is the second major phone-maker to have problems with its biometric security this week - Samsung confirmed Thursday that it was working on a fix for a bug that lets people bypass the fingerprint sensor authentication on Galaxy S10 devices. It's not exactly a solution, but you could just activate Lockdown from the power menu before you take a nap. Another tip from Google says that Pixel 4 can unlock itself even when users don't intend to do so. Instead, Google itself has warned users that their Pixel 4 can be unlocked even when their eyes are closed or if someone holds it in their face without them knowing. However, Google does not think this as a drawback, as it allows users to have ultra-fast face unlocking experience. "Keep your phone in a safe place, like your front pocket or handbag".

It's can be hard not to attribute this decision to Google simply following Apple's lead, as the competitor went all-in on it's own brand of facial recognition with 2017's iPhone X, and was the first iOS smartphone to rely on Face ID as the sole biometric for unlocking the phone.

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