One of the features that we thought we’d get with the Pixel 6 was face unlock, but it turned out to be a pipe dream. While the feature didn’t come out on Google’s latest handset, it seems that Google originally planned on including it. According to 9To5Google, the feature showed up for a user while setting up their Pixel 6 Pro.
A user posted a picture to Reddit showing the setup screen on a Pixel 6 Pro. It shows the screen where you choose your lock screen security type. On the bottom where it shows you the biometrics, one of the options says “face” as in face unlock. As far as we know, this person wasn’t running a beta or developer preview of any sort; they were using a stable build of Android. The user wasn’t able to set up a face unlock, unfortunately.
The face unlock feature was found on an older version of Android 12
This looks like something you’d find on an Android 13 developer preview or the latest QPR3 beta 2, but that’s not the case. Not only is this a stable version of Android 12 (not Android 12L), but it’s from a while back. According to the source, the face unlock option was in the code as early as Android 12 with the build SD1A.210817.015.A4. That came out in October 2021.
This shows that the face unlock feature was originally planned to launch with the Pixel 6 Pro back before Google released the phones. It’s odd that the company would take it away so late in the game. It’s a feature that people have been wanting for a while. It was present on past Pixel and Nexus devices, and it worked well.
As far as we know, that text wasn’t supposed to actually pop up on the setup screen. It doesn’t look like Google is randomly activating the feature, as that’s something it would announce with an update. For all we know, it could have just been a bug in the software.
Does this mean that the feature is not coming?
Maybe? After digging into the code for the Android QPR beta 1.1, some people found something interesting. There was a change committed to the powerHAL file. It showed the text “FACE_UNLOCK_BOOST” in the code. This means that there’s still hope for this feature to make it to the Pixel 6 phones.