Update: Thankfully, Google seems pretty active on updating the Pixel 6, with it set to improve how it surfaces data at a glance, so we could expect improvements to the phone's biometrics in the near future.
As more and more people get their hands on the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro, the more we learn as those people dig into the phones. Such is the case with this new piece of news. According to a new report, the Pixel 6 series was supposed to feature Face Unlock, but when the phones came out, it was noticeably absent.
Actually, leaks leading up to the Pixel 6 said that there'd be Face Unlock, though we doubted that it would be the same Face Unlock found on the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL. Still, having another unlock method wouldn't be a bad thing per se, especially with the Pixel 6's slow fingerprint sensor.
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Found by XDA user Freak07 (via XDA Developers), who posted the news to their Twitter account, Google modified one of the Pixel 6's core files to remove something called "Tuscany," which bore a description that implied a face unlock feature. Google made the change on July 9, several months before the Pixel 6's October release window.
The file in question is the Pixel 6's PowerHAL config file. Google was apparently trying to get Face Unlock to use less power by optimizing how much of the CPU it used to authenticate in a quick time window. Basically, the Pixel 6 should have checked your face and unlocked fairly quickly, using less of the battery to do so.
First face unlock. Early leaks suggested this to be a feature of the Pixel 6 series, but it was seemingly removed at launch. However there are some traces in the source to be found.November 10, 2021
Since we don't have Face Unlock on the Pixel 6, it appears that Google couldn't get it right for the phones and their Tensor system-on-chips. However, the company did not remove all mentions of Tuscany from the Pixel 6's config file, which leads Freak07 to believe that Face Unlock might come in the future. After all, Google likes to do quarterly Feature Drops.
The utility of Face Unlock isn't lost on us, especially since you can fall back on the fingerprint sensor when wearing a mask. Perhaps it's not a bad thing that Google scrapped the feature for the Pixel 6's launch. While we quite like both the regular Pixel 6 and the Pixel 6 Pro, they're not without their problems. If Face Unlock just wasn't ready, maybe it's good that the phones launched without it.
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Jordan is the Phones Editor for Tom's Guide, covering all things phone-related. He's written about phones for over six years and plans to continue for a long while to come. He loves nothing more than relaxing in his home with a book, game, or his latest personal writing project. Jordan likes finding new things to dive into, from books and games to new mechanical keyboard switches and fun keycap sets. Outside of work, you can find him poring over open-source software and his studies.