• Google's Pixel 4 and Pixel 4XL use Face Unlock as a security feature
  • The security feature is flawed, however, and will work even if the user's eyes are closed
  • Google has released an update that will require users to open their eyes while unlocking the devices

Google has released an update for the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4XL that allows users to set their devices so that they won't be unlocked unless they look at them with their eyes open.

The Pixel 4 and Pixel 4XL are now receiving the new “Eyes Open” feature, Android Authority reported. This feature will require users to open their eyes while using the handsets' facial recognition security method to successfully unlock the devices. This adds a higher level of security to Google's handsets.

Why does this matter?

The Pixel 4 and Pixel 4XL were the first handsets to use so-called 3D face unlock feature, which offers a lot more security compared to the 2D face unlock, Android Authority noted. This feature is more secure since it uses 3D depth data to unlock the device, as compared to 2D face unlock which uses a 2D image captured by a regular camera.

Google, upon the release of the handsets, proudly claimed that there are only facial recognition security measures that “meet the bar for being super-secure.” These, as per the Alphabet-owned company, is “ours and Apple's,” referring to the Pixel 4 and Pixel 4XL, as well as the iPhone.

Despite the added security, however, the Pixel 4 and Pixel XL were found to have a major flaw. Earlier reports revealed that people can unlock these devices using face unlock even with their eyes closed. BBC tested the Pixel 4's face unlock (called facial recognition) and found that it “works even if you're asleep / dead.”

Google acknowledged the existence of the security flaw when it was first discovered. It warned users that they might be able to unlock the device even when they don't intend to; that people who like similar to the users, like a twin, can unlock the device; and that unauthorized persons can unlock the device simply by pointing the front-facing camera to the registered user's face.

The new security feature, first found in the Android 11 Developer Preview 2 as per Droid-Life, is part of the April security patch, which is available now. Users who download the update will have the option to set face unlock to require eyes to be open when unlocking.

Google Pixel 4
Google Pixel 4 madebygoogle/YouTubeScreenshot