Android’s April 2020 security patch includes an essential improvement for the Pixel 4’s facial recognition feature. It’s simple, but important upgrade to your phone’s security: A person’s eyes must now be open to unlock the phone via the Pixel’s facial recognition technology.
Prior to the update, the Pixel 4 and 4 XL’s facial recognition lock screen could be unlocked even when the user’s eyes were closed—meaning someone else could simply point the phone at a person’s face while they were sleeping and authenticate into the device. The April 2020 security patch resolves this issue, but you’ll need to enable it manually. Go to Settings > Security > Face unlock > Requirements for Face unlock and turn on “Require eyes to be open.”
It’s good thing that Google has finally closed this particular security loophole, but it’s not only only option for user authentication. It might sound strange, but old-school PINs and passwords can be even more secure than facial recognition or a fingerprint. Here are some other Android security options to consider, with notes on their efficacy:
Use a different lock type
In general, PINs, passwords and pattern locks tend to be safer than biometric authentication. They function via knowledge, not a physical attribute—something that’s a lot harder to get out of a person (even legally) than holding their device up in front of their face. or pressing their finger to a scanner.
These options are generally found under Settings > Security > Screen Lock, but the exact steps on your particular Android might vary. Once you’re there, tap the type of lock you want to use—and never select the “No Lock” or “Swipe” options.
Even if you decide to stick with facial recognition or fingerprint unlocks, you should set up a backup option for “Lockdown” mode, which temporarily disables all biometrics and forces you to input a password or PIN to unlock your phone.
Go Settings > Display > Lock screen display
Turn on “Show Lockdown Option.” You will also be asked to set up an alternative unlock method if you haven’t already.
You can now lock your phone normally, then hold down the power button to wake it up and tap “Lockdown” to enable it.
Other lock screen settings to consider
You can limit which apps and phone features can use facial recognition under Settings > Security > Face unlock.
You can also go to Settings > Security > Device Security and turn off the Smart Lock feature for added security. And be sure to set your device’s auto-lock timing as low as you’re comfortable using security, regardless of which lock screen method you use.