Before the release of Google’s Pixel 6, several leaks suggested Face Unlock would be making a comeback to Pixel devices since being abandoned after the Pixel 4, but that never materialized. However, the latest Android 12L beta suggests that Google may be ready to bring it back to select Pixel phones.
Thanks to the Pixel 4’s built-in Soli sensor cameras above the screen, Google ditched fingerprint authentication and added Face Unlock. Now, new phones don’t have that sensor, which is why Google’s continued using fingerprint sensors rather than Face Unlock.
However, according to 9to5Google, who dug around the Android 12L beta, there are several modified lines of text in the settings menu and camera software strings of the unreleased Android build that heavily suggests Face Unlock is coming to the Pixel 6 Pro and potentially future Pixel phones. That said, the report states only Google’s high-end Pro model will get Face Unlock.
It’s worth mentioning that the Pixel 6 Pro has no special hardware for Face unlock, like Apple’s FaceID, nor does it have crazy Soli sensors at the top of the display like the Pixel 4. Instead, it’s nothing more than a front-facing camera, which isn’t all that secure when using Face Unlock.
In the Android 12L beta, Face Unlock for the Pixel 6 Pro is listed as “experimental,” so there’s still a chance Google never adds it, but this is certainly interesting to see.
It’s possible the addition of Google’s Tensor processor gives the company more ways to enhance features and keep them secure. If so, we could see Face Unlock make a return or arrive in future devices like the Pixel 7 with Google’s 2nd Gen Tensor chip. Either way, we’ll have to wait and see.