Google appears to be working on a new facial recognition system for its mobile devices, according to a new XDA-Developers report.
It’s mostly conjecture, but it’s based on pretty solid footing. Essentially, XDA-Developers has been digging around in code for Google Assistant, Google’s AI-driven virtual helper, and found snippets suggesting that a mysterious feature codenamed ‘Avocado’ involves facial recognition based on a mobile device’s front-facing camera.
Things get a little more interesting – and uncertain – when this development is considered in light of a Google patent filed earlier this year outlining a system that would match mobile users’ faces to their voices. To be clear, there’s nothing that XDA-Developers found in its Avocado code investigation to suggest that voice recognition is involved in that system; but Android Headlines points out that the combination of these systems in the next version of the Google Pixel is a possibility.
In any case, the Avocado findings suggest that Apple’s big bet on facial recognition with its introduction of Face ID on last year’s iPhone X continues to ramify among its competitors. For its part, Google has long been working toward more sophisticated password and PIN alternatives for user authentication, so its putative embrace of facial recognition wouldn’t so much be a copycat move as another step forward in that longstanding effort.