Google has chosen a different route than Apple to bring face recognition to Pixel phones.
Face recognition returned to the newest phones on Thursday, according to three former Google employees who were knowledgeable about the company’s efforts.
The Pixel 7′s facial unlock feature is not as good as Apple’s Face ID unlocking mechanism, as it struggles in low light and can be spoofed more easily. Plus, Google has said it’s too insecure to use for app or payment log-ins.
We’ve seen Google take steps to limit products with facial recognition in order to preemptively eliminate controversy surrounding any disparagement of their product. This may be because they took time to review the error rates of the technology since the last Pixel with facial recognition launched.
Google declined to comment on specific questions about it’s history with face unlock. It said generally, “Thanks to advanced machine learning models for facial recognition, Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro feature Face Unlock, but we’re doing it differently.”
It says, “We achieve good facial accuracy results out of the front-facing camera.”
Google has spent at least a decade working on the face unlock feature for their Android smartphones, but Apple’s Face ID release in September 2017 increased their sense of urgency.
To mitigate this, Google has attempted to devise a system that could both perform quickly and be impervious to spoofing. The most recent attempt is a system with built-in sensors that can detect when someone tries to force their way into the phone by using photos or hyper-realistic costumes.
To ensure online security, engineers toyed with requiring people to have a smile or blink when they’re logging in, but it was awkward and slow.
Another company has come out with a similar technology after Apple’s Face ID. Google’s new phone, the Pixel 4, is equipped with an infrared depth-sensing system called “uDepth”. The company claims this new technology outperforms competing systems and can even detect your finger movements.
It performed well in dark conditions, with a 1-in-50,000 chance.
Apple sells 240 million iPhones annually and Google has sold a few million. Apple is able to buy parts at volume discounts, but because Google’s sales are lower than for Apple, it doesn’t have the same ability to negotiate for parts at the same rates.
Google is dropping uDepth in the Pixel 5 due to costs, sources said.
Google has given the pandemic face masks a reason for not including the feature in last year’s Pixel 6, according to two sources.
The new face-unlock system on phones relies primarily on a typical front camera. Unlike the previous system, it cannot securely unlock apps and transactions due to Google’s standards. They say that there is a greater than 20% chance of the software being spoofed, which is above the 7% threshold they require to be considered to be the most “secure”.
Google shares that low light and sunglasses can reduce your smartphone’s accuracy. As a result, the fingerprint sensor is still an alternative to keep in mind.
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