We were a little disappointed by the lack of face unlock functionality on the Google Pixel 6 and Google Pixel 6 Pro when they launched last year – but as work continues on the Pixel 7, it looks like the feature could make its way to older phones too.
Sources that speak to the generally trusted 9to5Google (opens in new tab) say engineers at Google are working on a face unlock feature for the Pixel 6 that uses its fingerprint sensor. The idea is that a fingerprint scan can be used in combination with a face scan when the face scan results are not conclusive enough.
That’s not ideal, but it would mean face unlock could be brought to the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro without any additional hardware – despite the Pixel 6 having an inferior selfie camera that can’t scan faces as quickly or embracing.
The Pixel 7 too
Leaked marketing materials suggested that Google originally planned to bring face unlock to the Pixel 6 Pro, but failed in the end. Concerns about the accuracy of the feature and its impact on battery life are two potential reasons.
However, Google hasn’t entirely given up on face unlock for the Pixel 6 series, according to various leaks and rumors that have surfaced since the devices launched in October 2021. It’s possible that the same fingerprint sensor backup option also means that the feature eventually makes its way to the Google Pixel 6a.
Based on information from 9to5Google, Face Unlock is still a work in progress for the Google Pixel 7 and Google Pixel 7 Pro. We expect these phones in October, so face unlock for the Pixel 6 could be revealed at the same time.
Review: Another Pixel Miss
If Google wants its Pixel phones to seriously compete with Apple’s iPhone – and all indications are that it does – it needs to make sure it’s on par in terms of all the key features offered in phones like the iPhone 13.
With that in mind, not having face unlock as an option – or putting together a watered-down version that uses the fingerprint sensor and launches several months after the phone in question – doesn’t look particularly good.
Apple has made Face ID (and Touch ID) so seamless and slick that they’re barely mentioned anymore, they’re that good. Meanwhile, Google moves from the excellent face unlock featured on the Pixel 4 to the current mess we have with the Pixel 6.
Hopefully the Google Pixel 7 can fix some bugs in this regard with a face unlock feature that actually works properly – and also without the fingerprint sensor. In a month or two we should find out if Google did it.