Android biometrics in October 2019


Ron Amaddeo reported on the new Google Pixel 4 phone for Ars Technica, emphasis added:

When the Pixel 4 ships this week, it will be releasing to consumers with a face-unlock security issue that will apparently stick around for some time. Unlike the iPhone’s FaceID (and Google’s earlier face-unlock system on Android 4.1), the Pixel 4’s face unlock doesn’t look for the user’s eyes, so the phone could be pointed at a sleeping or unconscious owner and unlocked without their consent. This weekend, Google said in a statement that a fix “will be delivered in a software update in the coming months.”

And then Samsung reported issues with the touch sensors on their phones, as Tim reported for Droid Life from Samsung’s statement:

This issue involved ultrasonic fingerprint sensors unlocking devices after recognizing 3-dimensional patterns appearing on certain silicone screen protecting cases as users’ fingerprints. … To prevent any further issues, we advise that Galaxy Note10/10+ and S10/S10+/S10 5G users who use such covers to remove the cover, delete all previous fingerprints and newly register their fingerprints.

This has lead banks to take reasonable precautions, as reported in

“We’ve removed the app from the Play Store with customers with Samsung S10 devices,” Natwest said in a message sent to affected users. “This is due to reports that there are security concerns regarding these devices. We hope to have our app available again once the issue has been resolved.

These things happen, and demonstrate how difficult all this stuff is. But it doesn’t take much imagination to see how the pundits would have reacted if this were the iPhone X’s launch. #SiliconFaceGate? Okay clearly more imagination than I can muster late this evening!

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