Pixel 4 update fixes its biggest security flaw

The Pixel 4 had a glaring flaw in its fancy face unlocking system when the phone launched in 2019. But an update has landed that fixes that problem.

The clever face unlocking system that Google put into place on the Pixel 4 and the Pixel 4 XL introduced new tech and convenience to the phone. While face unlocking was commonplace, most worked on a simple recognition system and in many cases could be fooled by 2D images. 

Google’s system is a lot more like Face ID on Apple’s iPhone, using an infrared dot projection system and it works very well, unlocking the phone seamlessly, but offering a wider range of angles than Apple’s equivalent does.

The problem is that it worked when eyes were closed, meaning that you could be asleep and someone could point your phone at your face and it would unlock. Thankfully, this is now being corrected via a software update, meaning that you’ll need to have your eyes open to unlock the phone.

This omission led to one of the biggest criticisms of the Pixel 4 phones, although the convenience of the unlocking system compared to fingerprint sensors makes it an attractive system to use. 

There’s been slow adoption though. Apple is the greatest proponent of face unlocking on phones, with others seemingly reluctant to adopt these sorts of systems. That’s likely to be driven by the desire to reduce bezels, and the trend for 2020 has been to use in-display fingerprint scanners and punch hole cameras, doing away with any sort of notch.

We’re yet to see where this technology will lead and exactly how much bezel you need to retain these features. As we said in our review of the Pixel 4 XL, retaining some bezel is actually a good thing if you’re a gamer, as it reduces accidental touches on the display when playing in landscape.

The hallowed all-front display is often seen as the apex of phone design, but there’s certainly drawbacks in pursuing that outcome.

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