It looks like Google is aiming to make facial recognition a more prominent component of its Android operating system for mobile devices, according to recent teardowns of the Beta 4 version of the forthcoming Android Q.
The sleuthing found references in the mobile OS’s code to face-based authentication. And while Google had implemented support for facial recognition back in its Android Lollipop OS launched a few years ago, Android Q will enable support for the technology not only for unlocking a phone, but for approving purchases in apps and on Google Play.
It’s a logical step forward in the wake of Apple’s launch of the flashy Face ID system in its latest iPhone models, but Google is at a bit of a technical disadvantage since not all of the smartphones launched with Android Q (and quite possibly none of them) will feature the kind of sophisticated 3D facial mapping technology that makes Apple’s Face ID so secure. But it looks like Android Q will include security options such as requiring eyes to be open during a scan, which could help to ensure that face-scanning devices aren’t easily spoofed.
Meanwhile, other major companies involved in the development of Android smartphones are also looking to capitalize on the face authentication trend. Himax, MediaTek, and Megvii, for example, announced a partnership last September aimed at developing cost-effective 3D facial recognition technology for Android devices. So it looks like the Android ecosystem in general may be heading in this direction, with Google just making sure the right infrastructure is in place to support it.