Sources: Pixel 6 Pro was to be launched with face lock

9to5Google can today report that Google’s original plan was to launch the Pixel 6 Pro with face lock, but the feature was pulled relatively close to the launch.

According to sources familiar with the matter, Google intended to announce the Pixel 6 Pro with face lock support to complement the fingerprint sensor below the screen. The option was only intended for the larger flagship and not the smaller Pixel 6, which cooperates with something we previously wondered based on code.

The hardware difference between the two phones is an 11.1 MP front-facing camera with 94 degree “ultrawide” field of view on 6 Pro compared to 8MP and 84 degrees on $ 599 Pixel 6. Otherwise there is no dedicated hardware (IR cameras, dot projector or flood light), as it was seen on Pixel 4 in 2019. There is also nothing like Soli radar to speed up the unlocking process.

Soli-powered face lock on Pixel 4

Google probably relies solely on what is captured by that selfie camera to authenticate that it’s you. This has always seemed like the more Google-like approach, which primarily uses software to tackle difficult issues. It was also something that the Android Ice Cream Sandwich-powered Galaxy Nexus took advantage of.

Hopefully, there has been significant progress in handling and accuracy in the last 11 years, especially with the presence of dedicated hardware like Tensor. For example, Google highlights its chip as enabling faster and more accurate face recognition – in photographic contexts – due to integrated subsystems, while using half the power compared to a Pixel 5.

The relatively last-minute decision to pull the face lock is reflected in how early and on launch day marketing material referred to the capacity. This included a German print ad (though erroneously claimed to be for the Pixel 6 entry) and a UK operator launch page showing “Face and Fingerprint Unlock” in a live image of Android 12’s Security Hub. This reference – as well as one in a screenshot of the Play Store listing – was later pulled. Since then, there have been additional difficult references to the capacity of actual Pixel 6 Pro devices.

One of the sources told us that Google is still working on adding a face lock to the Pixel 6 Pro and that it is targeting the next major quarterly Android update, though plans may still change.

If that’s actually still the plan, it’s quite interesting for Google to update the Pixel 6 Pro with a great 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 still have concerns about the fingerprint reader. In the meantime, this face lock method will probably be a fixture on future Pixel devices in the future.

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