UPDATE:According to 9to5Google, the setup page seen in the photo that accompanies this story has been around since the October 2021 software build. In addition, before the phones were made official by Google, German and UK retailers had promotional material for the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro that mentioned Face Unlock.
For most Google Pixel 6 series users, dealing with the optical under-display fingerprint scanner has been a painful experience. Google has improved the scanner via software updates and we expect that Google will continue to work on improving this feature. But ever since November, those with the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro have read that the Pixel team in Mountain View has supposedly been working on a way to activate Face Unlock on the latest Pixel models.
Face Unlock was introduced on the Pixel 4 line and was the only biometric scanner on Google’s 2019 handsets (in other words, those models did not have a fingerprint scanner). Like Apple’s Face ID, Face Unlock on the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL uses 3D mapping to deliver secure facial recognition verifying the user’s identity to unlock the phone, open certain apps, and complete transactions using mobile payment platforms.
There has been speculation that Google would include Face Unlock on a future Pixel Quarterly Feature drop, and the early speculation called for it to be added only to the Pixel 6 Pro. So far, after two Feature Drops, Face Unlock has not surfaced.
Photo shows Pixel 6 screen during setup showing Face Unlock as a screen lock option
But for the first time, we might have some evidence that Google is actually working on Face Unlock and it could be coming to both the basic and premium variants of the Pixel 6. A Reddit user with the handle Special_Command7893 was setting up his Pixel 6 and when faced with the option (honestly, no pun intended) of selecting a backup screen lock, the phone included Face Unlock.
Pick up the Google Pixel 6 or Pixel 6 Pro
Right away, we can hear you saying “picture or it didn’t happen.” Your wish is our command. The Reddit user was on the ball and used his previous daily driver to snap the picture that accompanies this story. It is not a screenshot.
Keep in mind that while a facial recognition system could be activated through a software update, it won’t have 3D mapping (the components needed for this are not included with the Pixel 6 models) and 2D facial recognition can be defeated by holding up a photo in front of the camera. Some have suggested that Google could ask users to perform an action such as moving their head to prove that the image before the selfie camera is not a static photograph.
Face Unlock on the Pixel 4 series used 3D mapping for secure identity verification
At this moment, selecting Face Unlock for your Pixel 6 or Pixel 6 Pro wouldn’t do a thing. If Google is going to allow face recognition on the series, it will have to update the handsets. Considering that no one else has reported seeing this, what it all means is hard to say with any certainty. Until Google comes along to shoot this down, Pixel 6 series owners now have some hope of having their mugs unlock their handsets.