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Google warns that the Pixel 4 can be unlocked with your eyes closed; perhaps even by someone who just looks like you too

The Pixel 4 can be unlocked even with your eyes closed. (Image source: @thisisFoxx)
The Pixel 4 can be unlocked even with your eyes closed. (Image source: @thisisFoxx)
The Pixel 4 series only uses face unlock for biometric authentication; it is that secure. Or is it? Well, a video of one device unlocking to closed eyes suggests otherwise, as does the possibility of someone who merely looks "a lot like you" authenticating payments with your face data. Is the face unlock on the Pixel 4 series not so secure after all?

Google has gone all-in on facial recognition for the Pixel 4 series, making it the only form of biometric authentication on its latest smartphones. While the company promises that the data of your face, encrypted by the onboard Titan M6 security chip, is "secure enough for payments and app unlocks", it appears that it can be abused fairly easily.

According to a screenshot tweeted by BBC News reporter Chris Fox, Google warns that face unlock on the Pixel 4 series will authenticate a registered face in the following scenarios:

By someone else if it's held up to your face, even if your eyes are closed.

By someone who looks a lot like you, say, an identical sibling.

Fox has demonstrated the first scenario in a video too, which you can watch below. While some people on the accompanying Twitter thread have used a photo leaked by Slashleaks last month to discredit his claims, Fox insists that his review unit is running the latest retail version of Android 10. He has provided a screenshot of the sub-menu without the "Require eyes to be open" toggle that is present in the Slashleaks photo too, adding to the confusion.

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So, it seems that Google has either disabled the setting on retail software that it had enabled on the pre-release equivalent or vice versa. If it is the former, then we expect Google could address this in a subsequent update. It would be confusing if the latter were the case, though. All should become clear when Google starts shipping devices later this month.

(Image source: @thisisFoxx)
(Image source: @thisisFoxx)
(Image source: @thisisFoxx)
(Image source: @thisisFoxx)
The leaked Slashleaks photo of the Pixel 4. (Image source: Slashleaks)
The leaked Slashleaks photo of the Pixel 4. (Image source: Slashleaks)
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> Notebook / Laptop Reviews and News > News > News Archive > Newsarchive 2019 10 > Google warns that the Pixel 4 can be unlocked with your eyes closed; perhaps even by someone who just looks like you too
Alex Alderson, 2019-10-17 (Update: 2019-10-17)
Alex Alderson
Alex Alderson - News Editor - @aldersonaj
Prior to writing and translating for Notebookcheck, I worked for various companies including Apple and Neowin. I have a BA in International History and Politics from the University of Leeds, which I have since converted to a Law Degree. Happy to chat on Twitter or Notebookchat.