After videos from BBC tech correspondent Chris Fox showed the biometric security feature functioning without his peepers locked on the sensors, Google confirmed the feature will not “require eyes to be open” at launch.
Google also said the tech will improve over time, giving the company scope to add iris recognition as an extra safety net in the near future. On Google’s Pixel 4 support website, the company admits: “Your phone can also be unlocked by someone else if it’s held up to your face, even if your eyes are closed.”
However, if you’re a Pixel 4 buyer in the immediate term, you might want to be careful about falling asleep in front of those friends you don’t trust to behave themselves with your camera, social media or messaging accounts.
In response, Google has told the BBC that concerned users can switch on a lockdown security mode the deactivates Face Unlock completely.
Apple’s Face ID technology, on the other hand, does require users to have their eyes open in order to unlock the phone. Attempting to do so without will keep the phone locked until you open them.
Apple pitches this as an added security feature, telling users the tech makes it more difficult for someone to unlock your phone while you’re catching some literal shut eye.
In a post on the Apple support site, the company writes: “Face ID is even attention-aware. It recognises if your eyes are open and your attention is directed towards the device. This makes it more difficult for someone to unlock your device without your knowledge (such as when you are sleeping).”
During the Pixel 4 launch, Google’s Sherry Lin said the tech met the same strong standard as Face ID “meet(s) the bar for being super-secure.”