The Pixel 6 Pro was released in October of last year and touted a number of new features, including an updated face unlock feature. However, a few weeks after release, some users began reporting that their devices were no longer recognizing their faces. Google has yet to address the problem or provide a fix. So what happened to the Pixel 6 Pro's face unlock feature? And is there any way to fix it?
Google’s original plan was to launch the Pixel 6 Pro with face unlock
Google had originally planned to launch the Pixel 6 Pro with face unlock, but the feature was pulled relatively close to launch. According to sources familiar with the matter, Google intended to announce the Pixel 6 Pro with support for face unlock to complement the under-display fingerprint sensor. The capability was only meant for the larger flagship and not the smaller Pixel 6, which collaborates something we previously speculated based on code. While we don't have a clear reason as to why Google ultimately decided against releasing this feature, it's possible that there were still some kinks that needed to be worked out. In any case, it will be interesting to see if this functionality makes an appearance in future Pixel devices.
The hardware difference
There was a lot of hype around the Pixel 6 Pro's face unlock feature. It was advertised as being much faster and more secure than the standard fingerprint scanner. However, after the phone's release, it was revealed that the face unlock feature was actually not that different from the one found on the Pixel 6. The hardware difference between the two phones is an 11.1MP front-facing camera with 94 degree “ultrawide” field of view on the 6 Pro compared to 8MP and 84 degrees on the $599 Pixel 6. Otherwise, there’s no dedicated hardware (IR cameras, dot projector, or flood illuminator) as was seen on the Pixel 4 in 2019. There’s nothing like Soli radar to speed up the unlocking process either. So what happened to the Pixel 6 Pro's face unlock feature? It seems that it was just a gimmick to make people buy the more expensive phone.
The relatively last-minute decision to pull face unlock from the Pixel 6 Pro is reflected in how early and launch-day marketing material referenced the capability. References to face unlock were scrubbed from later marketing materials, and the one reference in a Play Store listing screenshot was later pulled. Since then, there have been additional straggling references to the capability on actual Pixel 6 Pro devices.
Google is still working to add face unlock to the Pixel 6 Pro?
One of the sources told us that Google is still working to add face unlock to the Pixel 6 Pro, and that it’s targeted for the next major quarterly Android update, though plans might still change. If that is indeed still the plan, it’s quite interesting for Google to update the Pixel 6 Pro with a major new feature so close to the end of its annual product cycle. It will definitely be a welcome addition for current owners and those who continue to have qualms about the fingerprint reader.
The Pixel 6 Pro is a great phone and Google has been working on adding the face unlock feature. However, they have not released a statement about the feature yet.
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