Google's Pixel 4 smartphones have run into another face unlock-related issue. This time, the feature is not working at all for some Pixel 4 and 4 XL users. Re-enrolling faces or resetting the phones fails to solve the problem, Android Police reports, compiling user complaints from several online forums. To recall, Pixel 4 had a pre-launch issue of eyes not needing to be open for face unlock.
The latest issue apparently started surfacing back in November but picked up the pace recently. Interestingly, the December 2019 security update triggered the issue for some users, though it's also occurring without any apparent triggering action for others.
Affected users are seeing error messages reading "Can't verify face. Hardware not available" or "Can't verify face. Try again." Oddly, many of those users were prompted to re-enroll their face before the issue emerged, despite everything working fine. However, following those instructions to remove and re-add the face data doesn't solve the problem. Some users, meanwhile, aren't even able to delete previously registered face data from their phones.
The most recent reports are from earlier this month before the January security patch was released. However, the latest update still doesn't help the broken ones, neither restarting the phone in safe mode does. Performing a factory reset solved the issue for some users, but that's a very inconvenient step. Even then, it doesn't guarantee a fix.
Thankfully, the issue isn't a widespread one and Google is already looking into it. Hopefully, it is a software issue introduced by one of the recent updates and can be fixed with another. If you've run into such an issue, you're advised to contact the company directly and let them know.
A ramification of not adding a fingerprint sensor?
Face unlock is the only biometric unlock option that the Pixel 4 smartphones offer. And thanks to Google’s Project Soli radar technology, it works significantly faster than competing solutions available currently. However, the company's decision to completely rely on this biometric authentication and not add a fingerprint sensor on the Pixel 4 wasn't received with open arms by all. Now we’re seeing a ramification of this dependence.
Face unlock not working means the affected users are now left only with the older generation unlocking methods: PIN, password, and pattern. Those might more secure methods, but not as convenient as face unlock, or fingerprint authentication. Hopefully, Google will roll out a fix soon and get all the affected users out of their misery.