No Pixel 6 face unlock despite early suggestions otherwise

  • General

Marketing leaks leading up to the unveiling of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro suggested the surprising presence of “Face Unlock.” However, at launch, there is no such capability, though signs continue to point towards it.

Original 10/25: The first hint came from a German retailer’s print ad that listed the presence of both a “fingerprint sensor” and “face recognition.” This was followed by an official image of the Security hub noting “Face and Fingerprint Unlock,” and that both face and fingerprints could be added

However, as of day one, there is no Face Unlock option in the Pixel 6 or 6 Pro’s Security hub on Android 12 running the November security patch. There’s only the under-display fingerprint sensor (UDFPS), as well as the usual Smart Lock options (On-body detection, Trusted places, and Trusted devices).

The retailer image of the Security hub with Face Unlock remains available and in-use today, while the Play Store listing – updated October 15 – for the “Security Hub” shows it as an option. A Pixel 6 mockup (hole-punch) is clearly used for the screenshots. Meanwhile, the hub is not yet available on older phones, so we cannot see how the Pixel 4 and 4 XL surface the Soli-backed Face Unlock in the new Security settings.

Update 11/2: Google has updated the four screenshots in the Play Store listing to remove any mention of “face unlock.” This was done in the past week, and reflective of the company wanting to keep what could be an upcoming capability under wraps.

The Pixel 6 lineup has no special hardware for face unlock so any implementation would have to be wholly reliant on the front-facing camera. That approach harkens back to when face unlock was available as part of Smart Lock, but Google removed that ages ago. That said, advancements since then might make possible a secure device unlock using just a camera and video footage. 

Such a capability could come with a future Pixel Feature Drop, or this might just be a case of the feature being scrapped at the last moment (at a stage when marketing images were already finalized).

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