Google looks to be working on a face scanning function similar to Apple’s Face ID, according to recent additions to Android Q and the Google App.
The Google Pixel 3 XL. Credit: Tom's GuideGoogle (the company) recently updated Google (the app), and in a breakdown of the new code, AndroidPolice (via Engadget) found incomplete lines of code relating to ‘Face Match’. These were also labelled ‘Avocado’, which is assumed to be an internal code name for the function.
Since the actual code that would do anything is absent, there is no way to test it, but it does allow a sneak peak into the basic options: adding and recapturing faces, as well as adding and removing authorised devices.
There’s also an option for multiple profiles, so several users could be detected by a single device and get their own personalized searches and recommendations, once they’d set themselves up on the device, if Google’s existing Voice Match technology is anything to go by.
On a similar note, code divers examining Android Q, the successor to Android Pie that’s currently released to developers on a limited basis, found code relating to scanning faces. (XDA, via Engadget).
Much like Apple’s FaceID, this would give Android devices the ability to use face recognition for multiple security uses, like unlocking the phone, or authorizing purchases via apps.
Android did already have Trusted Face, which can unlock phones by taking an image of a user’s face. It doesn't need infrared projection and recognition to work, so it can be used on any Android device, but it’s a far simpler system than Face ID, and therefore isn’t as secure. So upgrading the feature for the next round of Android and matching a currently unique selling point of Apple’s iPhone XS and XR seems like a smart move.
The presence of relevant code in the Google app also means this will apply to smart home technology as well, whether you’re using a phone or a smart hub with a camera as your control method. We should know more come Google I/O 2019, which kicks off May 7.