No Pixel 6 face unlock despite early suggestions otherwise

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The marketing leaks that led to the unveiling of the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro phones indicated the sudden presence of “Face Unlock”. However, at launch, there is no such ability, although references continue to indicate it.

Original 10/25: The first hint came from a print advertisement for a German retailer that lists the presence of a “fingerprint sensor” and “face recognition”. This was followed by an official image of the security center indicating “face and fingerprint unlock”, and facial and fingerprints can be added

However, as of day one, there is no Face Unlock option in the Pixel 6 or 6 Pro’s Security hub on Android 12 running the November security patch. There’s only the under-display fingerprint sensor (UDFPS), as well as the usual Smart Lock options (detecting device while carrying it, Trusted places, and Trusted devices).

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The retailer’s image of the Security Center with Face Unlock remains available and in use today, while the Play Store listing — updated October 15 — shows it for the Security Center as an option. The Pixel 6 mockup (a hole punch) is clearly used in the screenshots. Meanwhile, the Hub isn’t yet available on older phones, so we can’t see how the Pixel 4 and 4 XL will make a Soli-powered face in the new security settings.

Update 11/2: Google updated the four screenshots in the Play Store listing to remove any mention of “face unlock”. This was done last week, reflecting the company’s desire to keep what could be an upcoming capability under wraps.

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The Pixel 6 range does not have special hardware for face unlock, so any app should rely entirely on the front camera. This approach dates back to the time when face unlock was available as part of Smart Lock, but Google removed it a long time ago. However, developments since then may make it possible to unlock a secure device using only a camera and video footage.

This capability could come with a Pixel Feature Drop in the future, or this could just be a case of the feature being canceled at the last minute (at a point where the marketing images were already finalized).

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