How to Use Face Unlock on Any Android Device

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There’s been plenty of hoo-ha about Apple adding facial recognition and face unlock to iOS devices towards the tail end of last year, but us Android users merely scratched our heads. The reason being that we’ve already had this feature for a good couple of years. It’s called “Trusted Face”, and it’s right there baked into Android 4.1 onwards.

Here we’re going to show you how to use and improve this feature, as well as give some advice to those on older versions of Android about facial unlocking.

To switch on “Trusted face” and unlock your device using facial recognition, you’ll need to go to the Security settings.

Go to “Settings -> Security -> Smart Lock” then enter your PIN when prompted.

Tap “Trusted face” then follow the instructions to add your face as a trusted one.

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Your phone will warn you here that face unlocking isn’t as secure as using a PIN. The reason for this is that, even though you may protest that you’re completely unique, there may be people who look like you and could therefore get into your phone.

If you’re happy with all the preamble, go ahead and scan your face in, making sure you’re facing the camera head on and are in lighting conditions that reveal your face in maximum detail.

Note: The accuracy of facial recognition is to some extent dependent on the quality of your camera. A fuzzy camera, for instance, may be a little more lenient when it comes to what/who actually looks like you. There are some reports also of photos being used to unlock phones, which somewhat undermines this feature’s security.

You can also improve the accuracy of facial recognition to make sure it doesn’t unlock when you don’t want it to (or, less likely, stay locked when you want it to unlock).

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In the “Trusted face” section of your Security settings, tap “Improve face-matching”, then put yourself in different conditions to those you took the original photo in. It’s a good idea, for example, to do a face-match in darker conditions, one of you in glasses if you tend to wear glasses, or pictures after you’ve just had a radical overhaul of hair on your head and face.

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With a decent repository of images of you to draw on, this feature should do a good job of unlocking your phone with your face.

If you don’t have the Trusted Face feature on your Android device, you could use an app instead. The good thing about some of these is that they let you set up Face Unlock for specific apps, as well as your phone in general.

One app that we recommend for this is IObit Applock, which includes a face unlocker. You can use this to lock your screen as well as any app you like, so you can keep those super-confidential emails hidden for reasons that are (and will remain) your own.

There are plenty of apps out there that offer similar functionality to Trusted Face and IObit, but for something so important we’re not going to go out on a limb and advise you to use them. Security is paramount here, and facial recognition isn’t a watertight feature yet, so you never know how rigorous the technology implemented in some of these apps is. By all means, experiment with other face-unlock apps, but test them out vigorously before using them in day-to-day life.

iImage credit: Hacker is trying to hack into the phone using the personal identification method of face recognition by DepositPhotos

One comment

  1. Face Lock/Unlock may be the latest kewl thing but how secure is it really? There already have been articles about how face recognition can be fooled and/or hacked on iPhones.

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