When are Android devices getting face recognition hardware?

When are Android devices getting face recognition hardware?
Android's Open Source Project is an interesting place to explore, as it may give you a brief idea what the future beholds for Android or, more accurately said, what Android beholds for us, the users.

Recently, a line of code was discovered, which may have inadvertently hinted at possible support for facial recognition in a future Android version. Nothing special, you might say, and you might be right, but this code has raised an important question: when are Android devices actually getting a hardware-enabled facial scanning technology?

Native support for facial recognition hardware might be coming in a future Android version

Native support for facial recognition hardware might be coming in a future Android version


Software-enabled facial recognition has been part of Android phones ever since the 5.0 Lollipop update of the OS, which added the "Trusted Face" feature. It allowed you to unlock your device by just looking at the camera, but the feature was far from flawless and was rarely used. Ever since then we've seen facial recognition on various devices, namely the OnePlus 5T, which, by the way, does it really, really fast. However, software facial recognition is kind of unreliable due to the fact you can make your way through the authentication process via shenanigans. 

Iris scanning was as close to hardware biometric authentication as Android got. This feature made its debut on the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 handgrana... smartphone and used a dedicated camera that projected lasers to scan your eye. Iris scanning definitely had its flaws though, and it proved to be not fast or reliable enough either way. The technology is now available on Samsung's Galaxy flagships, including the S8 / S8+, Note 8, and S9 / S9+.

The sensors, part of iPhone X's TrueDepth camera

The sensors, part of iPhone X's TrueDepth camera


The advent of the iPhone X in September, 2017 has changed the entire face recognition game by introducing Face ID. It used the TrueDepth camera to create a 3D map of your face, revolutionizing the facial recognition process. Since then, inserting specialized facial recognition hardware in new devices is one of the top priorities for manufacturers, as it would make the authentication process faster and more secure. Unfortunately, this may not happen in the next year or two, as reported by top part manufacturers – Viavi Solutions Inc., Ams AG, and Finisar Corp.

The main reason behind the slowdown is the lack of parts needed to produce the vertical-cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs), which are used to create a 3D map of your face. Bill Ong, senior director of investor relations in Viavi, says there will be some time before Android-based OEMs secure parts for the whole supply chain. However, he also added we might see at least two Android devices that have 3D sensing technology in 2019. Manufacturer's name was kept in secret, but was said to join the 3D sensing game by the end of the year.

You might wonder how Apple got ahead of its competition in the first place. Well, it's part of the company's aggressive supplying strategy, a recent example being Apple's $390 million deal with Finisar to secure VCSEL supplies for the near future. The Cupertino company was also in talks with cobalt miners to make sure it has enough of the precious ore for battery producing. “Apple is always very focused on its supply chain,” says Jon Erensen, an analyst of Gartner. “When it comes to new technologies like this and implementing them to new phones, it’s one of the ways that Apple can really can be aggressive, differentiate and take advantage of the position they have in the market”, he added.

Speaking of Gartner, the research agency has predicted that by 2021 around 40% of all smartphones will feature a 3D mapping technology, which will play an important part in alternative reality endeavors as well as authenticating processes.

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43 Comments

1. Rampage_Taco

Posts: 1025; Member since: Jan 17, 2017

Iris Scanning didn't prove itself as "the next big thing"? But Apples Face ID did? Perhaps its because Samsung doesn't spend billions on advertising a single feature and act like they invented it.

4. bucknassty

Posts: 1317; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

wait... dont you have to have your eyes open for face id??? no one thinks thats suspicious eh?

27. NateDiaz

Posts: 1084; Member since: Mar 03, 2018

You can turn off attention awareness and use Face ID with eyes closed. Oh wait! You don't have an X, you're a troll

29. bucknassty

Posts: 1317; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

SHUT the F up nate... if you had really been paying attention, i told everyone here i tried selling 2 iphone x's but failed cause no one wants that piece of s**t. but your head is so far up apple ass you cant see the sun

30. NateDiaz

Posts: 1084; Member since: Mar 03, 2018

So you got 2 iPhone X but you don't know nothing about attention aware features? You're a troll, smh https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pvs9M7mXnU

34. roscuthiii

Posts: 2383; Member since: Jul 18, 2010

I've always maintained that Apple's greatest strength isn't in it's hardware, software, or even ecosystem... Apple. Is. A. Marketing. Company.

43. PhoneCritic

Posts: 1345; Member since: Oct 05, 2011

I don't get it Is not Iris authentication ( since no two people have the same patterns like finger prints) as secure as or even more secure than facial recognition? Honest question?

5. wando77

Posts: 1167; Member since: Aug 23, 2012

Iris scanner is awesome.....I don't need facial recognition

6. SIGPRO

Posts: 2813; Member since: Oct 03, 2012

Face ID sucks! Apple Sucks. Iris scanner is way more secure!

7. TheOneSilveriusXZP

Posts: 63; Member since: Jul 01, 2017

To tell the truth , back then in early 2010s , Android used to have a "Face Unlock" or Face recognition method to unlock your phone as alternative to PINs and Passwords , and i do have a phone that have that feature (Live With Walkman to be exact) . But as technology evolve , Face Unlock method at the time wasn't a great one back due some flaws , resulting the removal 'Face Unlock" or "Face recognition" in certain time after it was there . It was unheard till Apple iPhone X reintroduced it with FaceID and made it better but with flaws as well . Since then , Face Unlock or Face Recognition is back on Android and boomed , better than ever , at least from the OEM itself first (including Huawei-Honor , OnePlus,etc.)

14. Anonymous.

Posts: 423; Member since: Jun 15, 2016

Iris actually boomed facial unlock before the iPhone X was even realesed.

18. TheOneSilveriusXZP

Posts: 63; Member since: Jul 01, 2017

Aware that tho since Microsoft Lumia 950 and 950XL did Iris first , then Samsung with Note7 and S8 respectively , and made Iris popular to led Face Unlock return . But still , Face Unlock was getting its more notice than ever after iPhone X as during before that , Face Unlock indeed getting notice , but only few of them really knock them .

10. Panzer

Posts: 280; Member since: May 13, 2016

A low security face unlock came with the Galaxy Nexus released and November 2011. And judging from all the videos Apples implemenation is better but far from iris and and fingerprint level of security.

20. bucknassty

Posts: 1317; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

still got that baby in the drawer... maybe i'll break it out later and see if it remembers my face... with a bigger beard

24. Panzer

Posts: 280; Member since: May 13, 2016

I was so excited when that phone finally released. The GSM launched in November and the CDMA in early December. I took off work and waited for the Verizon store to open. One person went to the door and then twenty or so people came out of their cars and piled in line. We were just geeked to have a Nexus phone on Verizon. The Verizon employees were shocked to see people waiting outside for that phone. Good times flashing software, bricking, restoring repeat. Still have mine and my 4 and 5.

25. bucknassty

Posts: 1317; Member since: Mar 24, 2017

Yep my days of rooting and flashing have past, but the memories still remain... it amazing that some of these "features" were had long ago

11. sissy246

Posts: 7027; Member since: Mar 04, 2015

FPS is still the best, Iris scanner second best.

13. torr310

Posts: 1633; Member since: Oct 27, 2011

Agree!

12. airisoverrated

Posts: 55; Member since: Jun 08, 2012

Meh, I'm not sold why we want facial recognition hardware. I mean it feels like apple didn't even want it but had to go that way for their design, as they didn't want to have a separate sensor on the back. That said, some info indicated that they did try to make the apple logo on the back an actual fingerprint sensor but abandoned that due to issues. I don't even really have an issue with hardware facial recognition in general but I do question whether it's actually more useful vs a fingerprint sensor on the back. Samsung S8 aside, I've come to find rear mounted fingerprint sensors to be quite convenient and comfortable.

15. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

Who cares. I won't use it anyway, I prefer fingerprint over face unlocking.

16. Luigy04

Posts: 35; Member since: Sep 09, 2014

I really don't care about face recognition... I use the fingerprint scanner or a password not looking at the phone like I was taking a selfie every time, I see people that has Iphone X and they make funny faces to unlock the device.

21. c.m.s

Posts: 222; Member since: Dec 10, 2017

I can tell you don’t know anyone with an iPhone X. You certainly don’t need to make a ”funny face” to unlock it or hold it in some special ”taking a selfie” way. It do however still unlock even if I yawn while unlocking it, so you can do a funny face if you want :)

17. NarutoKage14

Posts: 1312; Member since: Aug 31, 2016

Let me get this straight. Sports venues, law enforcement and times square have facial recognition and we don't like that they do. But........ We want it on our phones? SMH

31. Rampage_Taco

Posts: 1025; Member since: Jan 17, 2017

Because people have the perception that those methods are public, where as their phones facial scan is private. located solely on their device. makes them feel "more safe"

19. DFranch

Posts: 525; Member since: Apr 20, 2012

If facial ID was as accurate as fingerprint, I'd support it, I've heard too many reports of family members or friends being able to unlock an iPhone X using facial recognition. Never heard report like that about a fingerprint sensor.

22. Macready

Posts: 1813; Member since: Dec 08, 2014

Iris scanning is pretty fast on the S8 now. Faster than faceid...

23. TheOracle1

Posts: 2147; Member since: May 04, 2015

I'm not particularly interested in having it to be honest.

26. porky

Posts: 10; Member since: Jun 09, 2017

I hope Android never gets facial recognition----Let Apple play with that tech. Android should go with under the glass/screen fingerprint recognition

38. Trex95

Posts: 2364; Member since: Mar 03, 2013

What if Apple bring with next upcoming iPhone X 2018 the 7nm A Soc and display fingerprint lol.

40. Sammy_DEVIL737

Posts: 1529; Member since: Nov 28, 2016

Apple will never do it as they are investing more in Face ID to make it as perfect as FPS.

* Some comments have been hidden, because they don't meet the discussions rules.

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