Face Unlock is designed to unlock the Pixel 4 much like Face ID unlocks modern iPhones, and the Pixel 4 is even using a 3D sensing camera similar to the iPhone X and later.
There are two Face Unlock IR cameras, an ambient light/proximity sensor, a Soli radar chip that powers Face Unlock and other features, a dot projector, and a Face Unlock flood illuminator.
The Face Unlock feature on the Google Pixel 4 will support secure payments and app authentication, which is unique as most Android devices do not have a secure enough facial recognition system to allow it to be used for payments.
Google says that it is designing its facial recognition system differently than Apple’s, making it a more fluid experience that works in any orientation.
According to Google, when you reach for the Pixel 4, the face unlock sensors are activated, recognizing that you want to unlock your phone. If the face unlock sensor recognizes you, the phone will open as you pick it up, all in one motion.
Google suggests this is superior to other methods such as the Face ID unlocking sequence on iPhones. “Other phones require you to lift the device all the way up, pose in a certain way, wait for it to unlock, and then swipe to get to the homescreen,” read’s Google’s blog post on the feature. “Pixel 4 does all of that in a much more streamlined way.”
As with Face ID, Face Unlock works on device, so no facial recognition data is shared with Google or Google services. Google says that face data is stored in the Pixel’s Titan M security chip, which sounds similar to the Secure Enclave used in Apple’s iPhones.
The aforementioned Soli radar chip is designed to sense small motions around the phone, which enables the sensors to activate when you reach for the device and also powers a new Motion Sense feature. Motion Sense will allow users to skip songs, snooze alarms, and silence phone calls by waving a hand in front of the phone.
Rumors have suggested that Apple is also working on iPhones that will incorporate touchless gesture controls for release in the future, though we’ve heard little about the feature and it’s not known when iPhones with this functionality might launch.
As with Google’s Motion Sense feature, rumors about Apple’s work on gesture-based controls indicate that iPhone users would be able to navigate the operating system by moving their finger close to the screen without actually tapping it.
There’s no official word on when Google will launch the Pixel 4, but past Pixel devices have come out in October, so it’s likely that this year’s launch will also be in October. That’ll allow Google to release its new flagship device approximately a month after Apple unveils its new 2019 iPhone lineup in September.