This is why Google won’t allow Pixel 7’s Face Unlock to verify mobile payments

Reuters reports that even Google isn’t ready to pronounce Face Unlock secure enough to authenticate mobile payments. So only the under-display fingerprint scanner will be able to verify the identity of a Pixel 7 series user checking out of a store using Google Pay. Google doesn’t consider its facial recognition system secure enough to allow Face Unlock to be used to verify the identity of a Pixel 7 or Pixel 7 Pro user signing into an app using his or her Google Account.

Google says that the Pixel 7 version of Face Unlock is not secure enough to verify mobile payments

Google says that facial recognition needs to allow spoofing to unlock a phone 7% of the time or less for it to be considered secure. Spoofing on the new Face Unlock system will allow someone besides the phone’s owner to unlock the device more than 20% of the time. The Alphabet unit also warns users that Face Unlock can have issues in low light. Because the iPhone uses an infrared camera for Face ID, low-light conditions are not a problem for Apple’s TrueDepth Camera.

It should be pointed out that in 2019, the Pixel 4 series had secure Face Unlock using the same components Apple uses with the TrueDepth Camera. But sourcing the parts was much more expensive for Google since much fewer Pixel 4 handsets were produced compared to the number of iPhone units produced.

Face ID on Apple iPhone models started with the iPhone X in 2017 and produces 3D depth maps of users’ faces making it harder to fool facial recognition systems. That’s because, without the depth map, a bad actor could use a photograph of a phone’s owner to unlock a device. We don’t know exactly how Face Unlock works on the Pixel 7 line, but if Google isn’t sold on the idea of ​​allowing its use to confirm mobile payments, it probably is vulnerable to those with malicious intent.

Face Unlock might not be secure but it is still useful

To make sure that a photograph isn’t being used to hack into one of the new Pixel models, Google toyed with the idea of ​​requiring the user to smile, or blink his/her eyes to make Face Unlock more secure as it would show that a live person was in front of the camera. But Google nixed this, according to a Reuters’ source, because it made the Face Unlock process slower.

Pre-order the Google Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro

So the Face Unlock on the Pixel 7 series is limited to unlocking the Lock Screen only. This doesn’t make it useless. In fact, Face Unlock will still make it easier and faster to unlock your phone than the fingerprint sensor. Personally, after using the iPhone 11 Pro Max for over two years, I often forget to unlock my Pixel with the under-display fingerprint button before tapping on a Lock Screen notification. And that becomes a giant pain in the butt since the phone then asks me to punch in my PIN number which adds extra time.

While this is infuriating when you’re in a rush, it is exactly why having Face Unlock will save time and effort. Despite its “limited” capabilities, I’d still love to see Google add the feature to the Pixel 6 Pro, although that now seems like a pipe dream. Reuters says that the pandemic, which forced many to wear masks, was one of the reasons why the Pixel 6 line did not have Face Unlock.

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