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Google will add eye detection to controversial face unlock feature on Pixel 4 phones

There’s been a storm in a teacup recently over Google’s new face unlock system on its new Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL phones.

The controversy is that you can unlock the phone just by pointing it at your face, the twist being that you don’t need to have your eyes open or be looking at the phone when you do so. 

Why is this a problem? It potentially means that anyone can unlock your phone when you’re asleep or dead (if we’re being macabre) without even touching you. While this is an outside chance for sneaky couples for check each other’s phones, there’s the general feeling that Apple’s version which requires eye detection is better. 

Google, having originally declined to comment on the furore, have now given a statement to The Verge, saying that eye detection will be included via an update in future. Of course, you can always use passwords or PINs, which ultimately, are even more secure. 

There is a sense of much ado about nothing here. People are suggesting that Google’s current system could allow your phone to by unlocked against your will when a miscreant points it at your face – but we suspect that trying to keep your eyes jammed closed to stop someone unlocking your iPhone under duress is never going to happen either.

Google’s face unlock system is nice and fast to unlock the phone and it uses the same infrared dot projection technique as the Apple iPhone, meaning that you can’t unlock it with a photo or video like some lesser systems.

But in introducing the new system, Google also removed the widely-supported fingerprint scanner that’s been used by a lot of apps, such as banking services, to allow a degree of security, but also swift unlocking for the owner without the need to always use a password. 

At the time of writing there’s essentially no third-party support for the new system, so those buying the Google Pixel 4 on launch day might find it’s a little less convenient than their old phone.

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