Your Google Pixel 6 might get a major new feature – but don't get too excited

Google Pixel 6
A Google Pixel 6 (Image credit: Future)

The Google Pixel 6 range is behind many high-end phones in at least one way: unlocking methods. While these phones include an in-screen fingerprint sensor they lack facial recognition (dubbed Face Unlock on previous Pixel phones), but there’s evidence that this could soon change.

Developer @mile_freak07 posted on Twitter that they’d found a new change related to Face Unlock in the config file of an Android beta.

This isn’t the first mention they’ve found of facial recognition on the Pixel 6 range, but the fact that there’s a change to the entry suggests it could be something Google is actively working on.

That said, there’s no information on when Face Unlock might arrive on the phones, if it does at all. It could arrive as a software update at any time – perhaps as part of a Pixel Feature Drop, or alongside Android 13.

But Google might equally decide not to roll the feature out – after all, the Pixel 6 range has been out a while without Face Unlock, so Google might just save it for the Pixel 7.

Analysis: a flawed feature

Previous reports suggested that Google hadn’t yet implemented Face Unlock on the Pixel 6 range because the feature was draining too much power.

So if Google can’t resolve that problem, it may not roll the feature out at all – or if it does, you may want to stick with the fingerprint sensor anyway, so you’re not having to charge your phone more often.

On top of that, some previous evidence of the feature (spotted by 9to5Google) suggested that if it does launch, it might just land on the Pixel 6 Pro – not the standard Pixel 6. So a lot of Pixel owners might still be out of luck.

But if it doesn’t land for your phone, it’s unlikely to be a huge loss anyway, since while Apple’s Face ID system is fast and secure, most Android phones don’t handle it as well, offering systems that are almost always less secure, and sometimes slower and less reliable too.

There’s no reason to think the Google Pixel 6 range will be an exception to that, especially as it doesn’t have the extensive hardware Apple uses for its system, so the fingerprint sensor is likely to remain the best option.

Via XDA Developers

James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to, and and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.