It is less than a week since Google launched its much-awaited Pixel 4 lineup of smartphones. The handset received several positive reviews, most of them pertaining to the face unlock functionality. This feature was at par with the Face ID function offered by Apple for its handsets and was offered by Google as a substitute to its fingerprint sensor. However, there was one security concern regarding the Face ID feature in Pixel 4 that can be worrying.
Face ID Works with Eyes Closed
BBC raised this security concern on their website. It was possible to unlock the Pixel 4 with the eyes closed. This meant that anyone can gain access to your handset even if you are sleeping or pretending to do so if you activate the Face ID feature. All that the person has to do is to show your smartphone in front of your face and the lock will get released. Chris Fox posted the proof for this as a video on Twitter. He went on to add that Google had confirmed the same to him.
— Chris Fox (@thisisFoxx) October 15, 2019
In contrast with this, Apple makes use of an Attention Aware feature, which expects that the iPhone user who has turned on the Face ID function must have his/her eyes open to unlock the smartphone.
Ahead of the launch, Sherry Lin, product manager of Pixel said that only the face solutions of Google and Apple met the super-secure requirements. However, cyber-security experts deny this statement. During a talk with BBC, security blogger Graham Cluley said that it is indeed a security problem if anyone could unlock the phone when the owner is asleep.
What Google Has to Say About the Problem
Interestingly, Google has not hidden this flaw from the public. A leak before the launch showed the device with a “Requires eyes to be open” optional setting.
Moreover, the company mentions this problem in one of its support pages. It also mentions that the Face ID feature can unlock your handset if used by anyone who has a close resemblance to you. For example, this can be an identical sibling. Moreover, just looking at the device can also help to release it although the user did not plan to do so.
As a precautionary measure, the manufacturer suggests keeping the phone in a place where you feel it will be safe. This can be your handbag or front pocket. The page suggests Pixel 4 users learn about turning on lockdown to be ready for any unsafe situation.
All the above factors only indicate that Google was trying to implement a concept similar to the Attention Aware feature of Apple. However, the company was not able to incorporate it before the launch.