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Google Pixel 4's January security update bricking face unlock and Soli sensor

Google Pixel 4's big new feature is facial recognition aided by Project Soli but the new update seems to brick it.

  • Updated: January 10, 2020 4:02 PM IST
Google Pixel 4

Google Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL’s big new feature is facial recognition. While it is among the safest mode of facial recognition on any Android device, it has been marked by controversies. Since its launch, the face unlock system has run into problems. It was initially observed that Pixel 4’s face unlock worked even with closed eyes. Now, the system has run into another user-facing problem. After the latest update, which brought the January 2020 security patch, the Pixel 4 users are reporting a number of issues.

Google Pixel 4 update bricking face recognition

The Pixel 4 and Pixel 4 XL users are reporting issues of being hit with error messages such as “Can’t verify face. Hardware not available”. Some have also seen the error message “Can’t verify face. Try again.” This happens when attempting to unlock the device using the built-in biometric authentication system. The problem has reportedly been around since November and has become more frequent in recent months. Android Police reports for a lot of users the issue first appeared immediately after receiving Google’s delayed monthly security updates.

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There are also reports that the issue is arising without any apparent triggering action for others. Those who own Pixel 4 series have complained about the issue on Pixel support forums, Reddit and XDA forums. However, the problem does not appear to be widespread. Some users have even tried to factory reset their device but it has not always been successful. The issue reportedly pops right back even after doing factory reset.

The relief here is the fact that this facial recognition bug is not widespread. However, one cannot discount the fact that the marquee feature of Pixel 4 series seems to be broken. If the feature can’t work reliably, it is not clear how Google plans to justify the price of the device. Apart from facial recognition, Pixel 4 owners have also complained about battery life. Without fingerprint sensor, facial recognition becomes the only choice for biometric authentication. Without that feature working, Pixel 4 becomes a less secure device.

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  • Published Date: January 10, 2020 3:56 PM IST
  • Updated Date: January 10, 2020 4:02 PM IST