Don’t Use Face Unlock on the Galaxy Nexus

If you care about the security of your Galaxy Nexus, don’t use Face Unlock to unlock your phone.

I know I told you to use it in out Galaxy Nexus Setup and Security overview, but after spending time with the Galaxy Nexus multiple writers have confirmed that Face Unlock on Android 4.0 is just a novelty that offers no real security for your phone.

Before the Galaxy Nexus came out, we shared a video showing that a picture could fool Face Unlock, but hoped that in the real world it would be less likely to happen. Not only can you unlock the Galaxy Nexus with a photo — but Adam Mills’ friends where able to unlock his phone.

We’re not talking about two friends who look like each other, but friends of different nationalities who wouldn’t be confused for one and other by a passer-by.

Don't use Face Unlock Galaxy Nexus

Face Unlock is not secure.

Sure, a friend unlocking your phone isn’t a big deal, but what if it was someone who found your phone or a thief who stole it? Once he unlocked the phone with his face, this person could have purchased apps on Adam’s account, sent emails to coworkers and acquaintances, accessed contacts, browsed through Adam’s pictures and even connected to the GottabeMobile site to delete Adam’s work.

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Xavier was able to use a picture of himself on his iPhone to unlock his Galaxy Nexus, which means many Facebook profile pictures could be used to do the unlock.

Sure, you may be able to use a specific odd-looking face to unlock your phone, but what’s the point of looking like Calvin’s school picture every time you want to unlock your Galaxy Nexus.

The recent Galaxy Nexus video is accurate, in that your kid won’t be able to fake your mustache and receding hairline to unlock your phone, but if Bob from accounting wants in you might be out of luck.

In case you need more reasons not to use Face Unlock on the Galaxy Nexus, here you are. Using face Unlock in public looks as awkward and goofy as you think it does, it also takes longer than tapping a PIN or using a pattern. You also miss out on the swipe left to use your camera option on the lockscreen, which means missed photos.

  

Comments

  1. Anonymous says

    “You also miss out on the swipe left to use your camera option on the lockscreen, which means missed photos.”  Isn’t that just as unsecured?

    • zhongfu says

      Face unlock is just a novelty feature, it’s just for when you want stuff fast but you just want a TINY bit of security. Kinda like putting cable ties around your house’s gate. Just get some scissors and cut it. In this case, the cable ties is the face unlock, and the house is your phone, and the scissors are a picture of your face.

  2. Guest says

    they should put a finger print scan thing on the side like my hp dv6t or something where u roll your finger over the cam

  3. Anonymous says

    This is total FUD!

    Edit: it is a good article i take it back. I think my 3 points still stand overall

    1. If you lose or even have your phone stolen how is that person possibly going to know it’s yours or have a large high quality head shot of you to unlock the phone unless they are a friend. Which brings us to…

    2. If you need to protect your phone from your friends DON’T USE FACE UNLOCK. you probably also need new friends

    3. If the info on your phone is that sensitive also dont use face unlock.

  4. dd10 says

    Face unlock is OK in my opinion. The chances of a stranger who picks up the phone that looks similar enough to you to unlock the phone is extremely slim.
    Plus they can always guess a PIN code and eventually get there, but they can NEVER guess a face unlock.

  5. Guybrush Threepwood says

    This article and the other haters in the thread above are talking complete rubbish.

    I have experimented with the face unlock feature quite a bit.

    The face unlock feature is obviously not going to be as secure as some other mechanisms.
    However, it does work quickly as long as you point it at your face. It does not seem to be affected by changes in expression, hair style, lighting or clothing partially obscuring the face.

    I have tried to fool it for quite a while using a picture but it refuses to recognise it at all. I have also asked about 10 other people to try it and it correctly says that they are not recognised.

    In darkness or if you don’t get it pointed at your face within a short period of time, it prompts you for your PIN instead.

    An excellent convenience feature if you ask me. Definitely less of a pain than having to operate a soft keyboard for PIN or pattern every time you pick up the phone.

    Of course, my results are not infallible, and your mileage may vary.

  6. IhaveaGNex says

    Do most people lock their phones?  I don’t think so.  The Face-Lock is much better than nothing.

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