Unlock your phone with your face is the new hot, mostly thanks to Apple's face ID. Android has had a similar function since 2015, called Trusted Face but it's not even close to it.
How does Face ID Work work?
Apple put much by tech to get Face ID to work in a way that was not only intuitive and accurate but also incredibly secure. In short, it creates a 3D map of your face using a combination of infrared light and image recording. Forbes did a great job explaining this:
It uses IR light to illuminate your face while taking pictures, working day or night, outdoors or indoors. IR spans wavelengths of electromagnetic radiation (commonly known as "light") just beyond the visible spectrum, so the iPhone X screen will not dazzle you in the dark.
In more layman's it sends a different sensor in combination with the device's camera to create a 3D map of what you really look like – that's why it works in the dark or the light, with a hat on, with or without glasses and everything in between. All that tech is the reason why the iPhone X series has a hack – that's where the hardware is.
In other words, it uses so much more than just one image.
RELATED: How secure is the face ID and touch ID?
How does Trusted Face Work work?
However, the Android Trusted Face feature (previously called Face Unlock) is nothing but a stored image of your face. In fact, you can fool it quite easily with a printed image. It's bad.
The exception to the rule here is when a phone combines Trusted Face / Face Unlock with another form of biometric verification, as the iris scanner is on modern Samsung Galaxy phones. But even then, only a security measure is used to unlock your phone. It cannot be used to log in to secure apps such as banking software, credit monitoring app or anything else that you can unlock with a fingerprint.
Why? Because it's not safe enough. Where apps accept Face ID as an actual security feature, that's not the case for Android. In fact, the APIs do not even exist for this yet.
Better Face Lock for Android comes (probably)
Now, everything that Google perceives is that a truly secure face lock is something people want – especially those who have used Face ID (and know how amazing it is). The word on the street is that Android Q – the upcoming version of Android coming out later this year – will offer a feature that can be compared to Face ID.
For it to be as secure as Face ID, it will need that hardware support as well. IR scanning and depth mapping are a requirement that the function should really be secure, so phones that do not already have this hardware (read: pretty much every phone out now) will not be compatible with their enhanced function, even if they get is updated to Android Q.
It is worth noting that this is only the theory of time – a few visible barcodes easily suggest improved reliable face (which may be of a different name if it turns out to be true) in Android Q. We won't really know until Google announces Q, which won't be too much later this year.
But meanwhile, remember that Trusted Face / Face Unlock is nothing more than a convenience and does not offer genuine security.