Apple’s latest iPhones may rely on facial recognition technology (Face ID) instead of a fingerprint sensor, but most Android smartphones also have similar capabilities. We show you how to find the face unlock settings and get the feature up and running.
Does Android have Face ID?
Not quite. Face ID is Apple’s trademark for its implementation of facial recognition. It's used to unlock a phone simply by looking into the front-facing cameras. Android manufacturers also offer facial recognition technology, but the name can vary from the one device to another.
However, a very important difference is that iPhones use 3D sensors to check multiple points on your face to ensure it's really you and not just a picture of you. Most Android phones just use their selfie cameras for facial recognition and can be fooled by a photo. Also, Face ID still works in the dark, but a regular camera won't be able to see you in poor light, or when it's completely dark.
So, using this method to unlock your phone is not as secure or convenient as you might like. And you might prefer to continue to use a fingerprint, PIN or password to keep your phone secure.
But if you're still keen to give it a go, here's how to find out if your phone supports face unlock.
Setting up facial recognition on Android
If you have a device with facial recognition capabilities, open Settings then find the section that’s called something like Security or in the case of Samsung phones (as we're using one here), Biometrics and security. This will usually be the same place where you set your passcode and fingerprints, again depending on your handset.
In here you should see an option for Face recognition or something similar. Select this, confirm your current passcode or pattern, then look for Register face or again something along those lines. Tap this and you’ll be taken through the process of mapping your face into the phone’s security data. If you wear glasses, be sure to keep them on until you’re prompted to remove them, as this is the view your phone will see most of the time.
You’ll need to look directly into the camera as it gets to know your features and if possible try to be in a well-lit room so that the optics can see you clearly. In some cases, you’ll be asked to move your head in a circular motion so that the cameras can build a more detailed record of your stunning visage. When the image is complete, your phone will let you know.
Some devices will offer the option to Add alternative look. This improves the scope of the facial recognition as you can smile, scowl or pull any number of faces that you regularly use throughout the day.
If you’re concerned about security and the thought of a video image of photograph of your face being used to access your phone, there are some additional settings you can adjust to increase the accuracy of facial recognition. Bear in mind they may slightly differing titles, depending on your phone.
Require open eyes is a very important one, as it means no-one can unlock your phone while you’re asleep or if they whip it out of your hand and point it at your face. Faster recognition is another that you should consider. When turned on, the setting means your phone will take a quick look at your face before unlocking. Turning it off requires the device to make a more considered viewing, which in turn will slow down the speed of unlocking. Of course, you can turn these off and on at will, so maybe experiment to find the optimum configuration that matches both your security and convenience needs.
The final thing to do is to return to the Face recognition part of Settings and ensure that the Face unlock option has been turned on. That’s it, now your Android phone should be able to unlock with nothing more than the sight of your smiling face.
For more ways to get the most out of your Google-powered device, take a look at 10 brilliant Android tips & tricks.