(Image credit: Future)
The curious case of Face Unlock on the Google Pixel 6 Pro continues to rumble on, with the latest leaks from those in the know suggesting that the feature could eventually arrive on the phone at some point later this year.
That’s according to the team at 9to5Google (opens in new tab): they’ve done some digging, and found that the latest Android update for Pixel phones includes code referring to a CPU boost that’s applied when Face Unlock is required (presumably to help identify you more quickly). What’s more, the code is exclusive to Pixel 6 Pro handsets.
This feature isn’t live and Google hasn’t said anything about it, but it does appear that the software developers behind Android 12 are laying the foundations for Face Unlock on the Pixel 6 Pro to finally show up at some point further down the line.
Unlocking Face Unlock
You may remember that there have been a lot of rumors about the Google Pixel 6 phones and Face Unlock, both before and after the launch of the handsets. The thinking is that reliability and battery concerns were why the option hasn’t been offered so far.
It’s possible that Google has now sorted out whatever issues needed sorting and is ready to push out Face Unlock on its most recent Pixel flagship – at least for the Pro model. While the phone doesn’t have the radar sensors that powered Face Unlock on the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL, its selfie camera tech and Google’s AI know-how might be enough.
We might have to wait until the launch of the Analysis: the joys of Face Unlock before Face Unlock comes to the Pixel 6 Pro though – it’s possible that the Pixel 7 and the Pixel 7 Pro will include hardware upgrades that provide an ever more seamless unlock experience.
Analysis: the joys of Face Unlock
Google decided to leave Face Unlock out of the Pixel 5 – according to Google it was a trade-off to make room for other premium features of the device. Previously, it had made an appearance in the Google Pixel 4 and the Google Pixel 4XL.
If you never used the Face Unlock feature on those phones, it might be hard to appreciate just how convenient it was: it was fast, it worked from multiple angles, and it enabled you to go straight past the lock screen to the app you were previously using.
It was almost as if you didn’t have a lock screen active at all, although of course you did – if anyone without your face tried to pick up and use the Pixel 4 or the Pixel 4 XL, they wouldn’t have been able to get in.
While similar results can be achieved with a high-resolution camera and some software smarts, it was really the dedicated radar sensors that made Face Unlock so smooth – not least because it could detect when you were about to pick the phone up. Hopefully, the Pixel 7 will have the necessary hardware and software to make Face Unlock shine.
Dave is a freelance tech journalist who has been writing about gadgets, apps and the web for more than two decades. Based out of Stockport, England, on TechRadar you’ll find him covering news, features and reviews, particularly for phones, tablets and wearables. Working to ensure our breaking news coverage is the best in the business over weekends, David also has bylines at Gizmodo, T3, PopSci and a few other places besides, as well as being many years editing the likes of PC Explorer and The Hardware Handbook.