Google Working on Software Update to Bring Eye Detection to Pixel 4's Face Unlock

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Google has said it will release a software update "in the coming months" that will let Pixel 4 owners require their eyes to be open for the phone's Face Unlock security feature to work.

Pixel 4 XL 11 nextrift

Image via NextRift

The acknowledgement follows last week's discovery that the Pixel 4's facial authentication system isn't currently capable of distinguishing a face with eyes open versus eyes closed. The finding immediately sparked concerns that the phone could be opened by anyone simply by waving it in front of its sleeping / dead owner.

Google's Pixel 4 Face Unlock feature replaces the fingerprint sensor and works similarly to Apple's Face ID, which is found on iPhones and iPads that have a TrueDepth camera system. However, Face ID requires by default that the user's eyes are open, although users can turn off this Attention Aware option in settings.

Previously, Google said that Face Unlock "is designed to get better over time with future software updates," but stopped short of committing to deliver the "Require eyes to be open" toggle that was spotted in pre-launch leaks of the Pixel 4's features. Now though, it wants customers to know that the setting is on its way. The company gave the following statement (via The Verge):

We've been working on an option for users to require their eyes to be open to unlock the phone, which will be delivered in a software update in the coming months. In the meantime, if any Pixel 4 users are concerned that someone may take their phone and try to unlock it while their eyes are closed, they can activate a security feature that requires a pin, pattern or password for the next unlock.

Despite the security implications of Face Unlock working even if your eyes are closed, Google still claims the feature "meets the security requirements as a strong biometric, and can be used for payments and app authentication, including banking apps. It is resilient against invalid unlock attempts via other means, like with masks."

Top Rated Comments

christarp Avatar
15 months ago
It's been 2 years and companies are still messing up details Apple nailed down in the first introduction. Crazy to me.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Abazigal Avatar
15 months ago
It’s funny. Every time the pundits claim that Apple is doomed because it’s supposedly an “off” year, the competition does something to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

Samsung - galaxy fold fiasco and the note missing the headphone jack

Google - pixel lacking 4K video recording, removal of free photo storage, caveats with their version of Face ID, smaller battery and limited storage options (with no expandable storage to boot). This thing couldn’t have held a candle against the original iPhone X, much less this.

Microsoft - surface neo. Are you kidding me? You have lost the moment you went with android.

Meanwhile, Apple manages to update many of the products in their lineup, update multiple OSes near-simultaneously, and launch a bevy of new services this year.

And people can still claim that Apple is no longer innovating? [emoji854]
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
StellarVixen Avatar
15 months ago
“In the coming months...”




Please, iOS, NEVER cease to exist. Never!
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
keysofanxiety Avatar
15 months ago
Time is always the best judge for technology. With all the hurdles competitors have encountered that Apple had already ironed in the first iteration, I think it’s fair to say that Face ID is extremely advanced.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
StellarVixen Avatar
15 months ago


It's been 2 years and companies are still messing up details Apple nailed down in the first introduction. Crazy to me.

It has been said back when iPhone X launched that competition will have no answer for years. Maybe FaceID will be like Taptic Engine. Android phones do not come close to what Apple has.

What is crazy to me is that king of data science and machine learning, Google, cannot develop a working reliable algorithms to detect if eyes are closed or not.
Score: 8 Votes (Like | Disagree)
BlueCreek Avatar
15 months ago


Have a iPhone 11, but don’t really see why this is such a big deal - since the main security comes from a 3D map of the face and Google said a patch is coming to cover the attention issue.

Rumors are that Sammy’s S11 will have this (3D Face ID). Be interesting to se how that rolls out as well, if true.

Wouldn’t hold out much hope Samsung’s version of Face ID if the in-display fingerprint reader is anything to go by on the S10, which anyone can unlock using a $1 screen protector.
Score: 7 Votes (Like | Disagree)

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