With the blink of an eye, Google’s Pixel 4 (and Pixel 4 XL) accomplished something that no other significant Android phone-maker has. It finally caught up to iPhone’sFace ID — a biometric unlocking feature that Apple popularized two years ago — to unlock the phone and buy things with a scan of your face. Now that a secure version exists in Android phones, face unlock will be the killer feature every Android user will want. (Here’s how the Pixel 4’s face unlock compared to the iPhone 11’s Face ID when we tested both in four typical scenarios.)
With consumers more aware of the value of their privacy, being able to offer secure face unlock is potentially even more convenient than scanning your fingerprint or entering a pin code. Closing the gap with Face ID also gives Google an edge over Samsung, LG, Huawei and all the rest at a time when Google can sell its phones across all major US carriers, providing an opportunity to make the Pixel, which hasn’t historically sold well, more of a household name.
But more importantly, the Pixel 4’s adoption of this secure version of face unlock could have ripple effects throughout the rest of the Android world. If Google folds the blueprint for this secure version of face unlock into the Android OS, it will all but guarantee that every midrange and premium phone will use the feature, since roughly 90% of all smartphones run on the platform.