Google’s long Face Unlock saga continues. The facial authentication feature had previously appeared in multiple Pixel 4 models, but was unexpectedly removed from the Pixel 5 series in 2020, and was again conspicuously absent when the tech giant’s Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro smartphone models debuted last October.
Rumors have since suggested that Google had originally planned to bring Face Unlock back with the Pixel 6. Several cyber investigators have unearthed references to the feature in leaked Pixel 6 marketing materials, and in code changes in a Pixel 6 configuration file. The presence of that code has given some Pixel fans cause for optimism, since there is still a chance that Google could restore the feature with a future software update.
Now the rumor mill is kicking up again to add more fuel to that particular fire. The XDA Recognized Developer Freak07 has been sifting through Google’s code for the QRP3 1.1 beta build for Android 12, and has once again found a change in a PowerHAL configuration file that references a Face Unlock utility. The fact that Google is still making changes suggests that the feature is still in some stage of development, and not simply a relic from a prior build.
At the moment, however, any talk of Face Unlock is little more than speculation. Google has not yet revealed why the feature was scrapped, though some rumors have pointed to concerns about its effect on the smartphone’s battery life. Freak07 has been a reliable source of Pixel rumors in the past, and is the same person who discovered the code changes that first pointed to the existence of a Face Unlock feature referred to as “Tuscany.”
As it stands, fingerprint recognition is the only biometric authentication option available on the Pixel 6 line of smartphones. Unfortunately, the in-display sensor has not performed well for many users, and has even been disabled entirely following screen repairs in some cases.
Source: XDA Developers