With Android 10, Google takes the first step toward challenging Apple with a key feature



If you're an Android user with a Pixel or an Essential Phone, you probably are interested in checking out the new features found on Android 10 including the system-wide Dark theme. But the new build of Android also adds by subtraction; it does away with the Trusted face smart unlock feature most likely in preparation for a real big-league secure facial recognition system on par with Apple's Face ID. After all, the Trusted face smart unlock did not use biometrics for protection and could easily be fooled by a photograph.

Google added the Trusted face smart unlock with Android Lollipop back in 2014 and at the time, it wasn't meant to be a secure method to verify the phone owner's identity; Face ID was still three years away and Touch ID was less than a year old at the time. While the Motorola Atrix was the first to try a fingerprint scanner back in 2011, the implementation and the results were both horrible. In July 2012, Apple bought biometrics firm AuthenTec for a reported $356 million and the next year Touch ID launched on the iPhone 5s.

Google's new Face unlock might be faster than Apple's Face ID


Whispers about Google's intentions for the upcoming Pixel 4 series started immediately when the first renders were published showing that the rear-facing fingerprint scanner was gone. It was assumed that the new Pixel line would have a secure Face ID type of facial recognition system. This was confirmed in July when Google released a video showing a Pixel 4 user unlocking the device by looking at the phone. The company also stated that the new system "should be able to recognize you, and only you, without any fuss." It also published an image showing all of the sensors that will be found in the phone's top bezel; this includes a pair of infrared Face unlock cameras and a flood illuminator for the system. Google says that its Face unlock will work with the phone held in any orientation and it might be a little faster than the current version of Apple's Face ID; that's because sensors will recognize when the Pixel user is reaching for the phone and will prepare the Face unlock technology to start doing its thing; this will allow the user to pick up the phone and have it unlocked in one motion.


Apple's Face ID uses a method called Structured Lighting to project a pattern of dots in a grid on the subject. Deformities created when the pattern hits the subject can be used to calculate distance and produce a 3D mapping of the face. Besides employing it to unlock the phone, Pixel 4 users will be able to use Face unlock to verify their ID for secure mobile payments and app authentication.

Back in April, the company that supplies Apple with the optical sensor for Face ID said that it expects more business toward the second half of the year when it is looking forward to "a growing share of income from Android smartphone makers." Some of this business could be from Google for the Pixel 4 series.

You might recall that a few weeks after Apple started shipping the iPhone X, the first handset with Face ID, Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller said in an interview that the first attempts from Android manufacturers to copy Face ID would "all stink." But the Pixel 4 series, due to be unveiled and launched next month, could contain the first facial recognition system on an Android phone that improves on Face ID. So it isn't that Google no longer trusts your face; it's that the company has developed a new Face unlock system that you can trust.

Related phones

Pixel 4
  • Display 5.7" 1080 x 2280 pixels
  • Camera 12.2 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, Octa-core, 2840 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB
  • Battery 2800 mAh
Pixel 4 XL
  • Display 6.3" 1440 x 3040 pixels
  • Camera 12.2 MP / 8 MP front
  • Processor Qualcomm Snapdragon 855, Octa-core, 2840 MHz
  • Storage 64 GB
  • Battery 3700 mAh

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30 Comments

1. surethom

Posts: 1721; Member since: Mar 04, 2009

Much prefer under glass finger print scanning than face unlock.

6. Man_Utd

Posts: 188; Member since: Feb 03, 2015

Isn't choice a nice option?

7. j_grouchy

Posts: 180; Member since: Nov 08, 2016

Only if there actually IS a choice. I worry they all want to go to face unlock, doing away with FPS.

14. drunkenjay

Posts: 1697; Member since: Feb 11, 2013

yeah i hate face unlock and im loving the onscreen fingerprint scanner.

18. sgodsell

Posts: 7456; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Face unlock first came to Android with the Galaxy Nexus, and jellybean back in 2012. There was even commercials about it. Smart lock came with lollipop, and gave you more than one unlock, or authentication method, which included face unlock, fingerprint, trusted devices, and more. It was never just one thing. Just like I hope Google adds an under the screen finger print scanner as well. Apple fails for only giving it's users only one authentication method. Yet, Apple is looking to bring back a fingerprint scanner, or TouchID under the display for its 2020 iPhones. Or I guess Apple is just following Android, again.

30. Mike88

Posts: 438; Member since: Mar 05, 2019

Wrong info,, I’ve used face unlock on a 2010 Samsung galaxy phone though it was as insecure as the one on s10/note 10 and every android phone. FaceID is the future.

19. slashas

Posts: 143; Member since: Jul 17, 2017

I prefer face unlock, as it is more reliable than FPS especially in wet conditions, I get less failures with FID than with FPS ;)

24. sgodsell

Posts: 7456; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Qualcomms ultrasonic finger print scanner is more secure than Apples FaceID, and it works if your fingers are wet, slightly dirty, or you are wearing thin plastic gloves, like the ones found when in the food service industry, or surgical gloves. Plus they work under the screen.

29. Mike88

Posts: 438; Member since: Mar 05, 2019

FaceID is the most secure unlocking mechanism ever on a smartphone. Ultrasonic FPS aren’t half as secure as FaceID plus they are very unreliable. Watch any S10/Note 10 review and read the complaint forums. Everyone knows how unreliable they are.

32. sgodsell

Posts: 7456; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Mike88, Samsung's or Qualcomms current ultrasonic finger scanner is very secure, and more secure than Apples current FaceID that is found on the X, XR, XS, and XS Max. Apple's current FaceID hardware uses a single IR camera, which scans IR dots from a users face that were projected there by Apple's IR dot projector. Even Google's Pixel 4 facial recognition system has two IR cameras place on either side of the Pixel 4's. Therefore Pixel 4 facial recognition will blow Apple's current FaceID out of the water, and it will be much more accurate. Putting that aside, the S10 ultrasonic finger scanner didn't have the anti spoofing software update fix when it was first released. The S10 software has been updated since then, and now even if you chopped off a users finger to try and use on the scanner it won't work, because the S10 ultrasonic scanner can detect blood flow. Also don't forget that Qualcomms ultrasonic scanner actually scans your finger in 3D. Every other finger print scanner only scans in 2D. Therefore a 3D scan is much more accurate.

33. Georgio

Posts: 259; Member since: Nov 21, 2016

Face id is the most secure !! That's it!! Nobody believes or reads your rubbish. Nothing will blow apple face id cos they will improve face id with the iphone 11 pro ; actually apple is going to destroy the competition with their new improved face id from the iphone 11

21. gadgetpower

Posts: 283; Member since: Aug 23, 2019

But it would be awesome to use your phone when wet

2. MsPooks

Posts: 174; Member since: Jul 08, 2019

Google copying Apple again. Go figure.

3. TBomb

Posts: 1579; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

*eyeroll* There should be a community standard that comments have to add substance.

13. RebelwithoutaClue unregistered

Don't feel the trolls. This is just a basement keyboard warrior who stole a pic from instagram to look relevant

17. maherk

Posts: 6965; Member since: Feb 10, 2012

If you've seen her comments before, then you would've known that she was being sarcastic. But I don't blame you if you haven't seen them, her comment could very easily be taken seriously if you haven't stumbled on one of her older comments.

4. JCASS889

Posts: 568; Member since: May 18, 2018

Truly a constructive response

10. Georgio

Posts: 259; Member since: Nov 21, 2016

MsPooks Really?!! Google invented face unlock!! Apple took it and improve it ; now google wants to improve it as well. God,,,

12. MsPooks

Posts: 174; Member since: Jul 08, 2019

FFS, boys! Did I really need the "/s?!"

15. TBomb

Posts: 1579; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

You're account appears to be newer compared to others and it's hard to tell the sarcasm in that comment if there was any because your comment is actually the true thought process of many readers here. Sorry for jumping the gun if we did

16. luis.aag90

Posts: 277; Member since: Aug 12, 2014

I really like your sarcasm...

22. wickedwilly

Posts: 727; Member since: Sep 19, 2018

No one is copying Apple, Dark Modes have been around on Android phones for years. Apple copied this. It's funny how iSheep forget what really happens and think everything came first on Apple products, when in reality it is usually the opposite.

28. Georgio

Posts: 259; Member since: Nov 21, 2016

You talk just like an androsheep as well. Apple and Google Android makes good things for the tech

34. wickedwilly

Posts: 727; Member since: Sep 19, 2018

I have a preference for Android but do not have the traits of an iSheep. It is a fact that no one is copying Apple here. It is also a fact that many ardent Apple fans repeatedly state/believe that when Apple gets a new feature it is original when it is rare nowadays for Apple to come up with features first.

8. cmdacos

Posts: 4267; Member since: Nov 01, 2016

Both solutions are not entirely secure as there isnt a unique variable to validate identity. Balances convenience and security but neither is truly secure.

9. Mike88

Posts: 438; Member since: Mar 05, 2019

They might try to copy iPhones like they did with the gestures in android 10 but the truth is android face unlock can’t be trusted about not sending your facial data to govts and criminals

11. dnomadic

Posts: 426; Member since: Feb 20, 2015

Bud, Google didn't lift these gestures from Apple. All Lifted the gestures from Palm and WebOS, heck even blackberry used these swipe gestures before either of these entities. Face unlock also was accomplished well before Apple on Android devices... Apple definitely made it more secure and better, however Googles implementation may prove even faster and secure. The XYZ copied XYZ narrative is old and holds no water when they all are inspired by others.

20. Alcyone

Posts: 489; Member since: May 10, 2018

Lol. Speaking of security.....https://www.malaymail.com/news/tech-gadgets/2019/09/03/apple-issues-official-apology-for-letting-contractors-listen-to-siri-record/1786737 Face, voice, text, whatever it maybe, is really secure with Apple. Btw, I have a headache now, due to your weak troll skills.

23. japkoslav

Posts: 1520; Member since: Feb 19, 2017

And here is me thinking "Apple with a key feature" was meant new Pixels will be significantly more expensive.

35. bonedatt

Posts: 5; Member since: Apr 23, 2019

"the Pixel 4 series, due to be unveiled and launched next month, could contain the first facial recognition system on an Android phone that improves on Face ID". Didn't the LG G8's facial recognition system already improve on Face ID by using ToF rather than Structured lightning, or is the G8 no longer considered an Android device?

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