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Welp, Google Pixel 4’s face unlock works even when your eyes are closed

Hey Google, this is not ok.

google face unlock
Image: Google

Google might live to regret removing the fingerprint sensor on the Pixel 4, as the new facial recognition system seems to have a major issue – it’ll unlock your phone even if your eyes are shut.

That seems like a glaring security hole, in a feature that Google says is secure enough to be used as a payment verification…

It seems the Pixel 4’s face unlock works even if your eyes are shut

The video above is the worrying proof posted by one of BBC News‘ correspondents, Chris Fox. Google confirmed the issue to BBC News after the video went viral, adding the not-really-helpful advice of “keep your phone in a safe place.” Pretty sure biometric security is meant to enhance my phone’s security, not make it easier to unlock it…

Google now has some salient advice on its FAQ pages, including:

  • Your phone can (and probably will) unlock when you don’t want it to
  • People that look like you could probably also unlock it… (Just how secure is this thing, anyway?)
  • And the kicker – your phone could be unlocked by someone else using your head, even if your eyes are closed. (Is this Google’s version of criminals in movies using people’s eyeballs to fool locks?)

Then again, fingerprint sensors aren’t that secure either, are they Samsung?

UPDATE 10/21/19: In a statement provided to The Verge, Google says that it has “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.”

Here’s the full statement:

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. Pixel face unlock 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.

What do you think? Surprised that Google’s facial recognition is so bad? Let us know down below in the comments or carry the discussion over to our Twitter or Facebook.

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Maker, meme-r, and unabashed geek with nearly half a decade of blogging experience at KnowTechie, SlashGear and XDA Developers. If it runs on electricity (or even if it doesn't), Joe probably has one around his office somewhere, with particular focus in gadgetry and handheld gaming. Shoot him an email at joe@knowtechie.com.

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