It has taken a while but Google has finally fixed the most annoying flaw in the Pixel 4 (opens in new tab), which didn’t require users to have their eyes open when carrying out the face unlock process.
The latest security patch (opens in new tab) for Android 10 (opens in new tab) is currently being rolled out and adds in a “Require eyes to be open” option in the Pixel 4’s face unlock menu. As the name would suggest, this feature means users will only be able to unlock their phone with their face if their eyes are open, effectively making the biometric unlocking process more secure.
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When the Pixel 4 launched back in October, its speedy face unlock system, which was facilitated by the use of the Soli chip and an infrared sensor in the phone’s rather chunky-for-2019 top bezel, allowed users to simply look at the Pixel 4 or Pixel 4 XL (opens in new tab) to unlock it. This worked so well that it went some way to compensate for Google’s decision to remove the rather good fingerprint scanner found on the rear of previous Pixel phones, like the Pixel 3a (opens in new tab).
However, the face unlock system came under fire after it was discovered that someone could hold a Pixel 4 up to its user’s face when they were asleep and the phone would unlock.
Granted, having someone in your bedroom with such ill intentions might be a big enough security problem by itself, but being able to unlock the phone with closed eyes was deemed a security flaw in the Pixel 4. After all, a nosy partner or friend could exploit the system and use it to take a sneaky look at the contents of your photos or messages.
Google seems to have been a little slow off the mark in putting in the eyes-open feature, as Apple’s iPhone X (opens in new tab) with its Face ID required users to have their eyes open and look directly at the phone to unlock it from the moment it was released in 2017.
If you downloaded the Andriod 11 (opens in new tab) beta, then the open eyes option has been available since the Developer Preview 2 update. But if you stick with the full releases of Android, then you can expect the option to arrive with the latest update from Google.
The update also brings other tweaks to the Pixel 4, notably addressing a memory leak that blocked additional Bluetooth Low Energy connections, problems with dropped Bluetooth audio input in some calls, and the lag encountered when opening the keyboard in some apps.
These tweaks won’t dramatically change your experience with the Pixel 4, but they do help make it a little more secure and stable.