My recent upgrade from Pixel 4 to 7 moved me from one to two biometric sensors; the thing unlocks with either face or finger. But the default setup is unsafe; making it safe is a little inconvenient, but worth doing.
I love fingerprint unlock, first experienced in 2016 on my then-state-of-the-art Nexus 5X. Its reader was on the back where your index finger naturally lands, had a physical target to guide your touch, and it never freaking failed!
My Pixel 4 replaced the fingerprint sensor with outstandingly great face unlock, even worked in the dark. But there was a huge fly in the ointment. One of my family responsibilities is the grocery shopping. Since I’m not stupid, I wear a KN95 mask in crowded public places, for example food stores. Thus no face unlock. When I (not infrequently) wanted to consult the phone, I had to tap in my (nontrival) PIN with one hand while holding stuff.
Thus, when I got the Pixel 7 I was all excited. The face unlock no longer has infrared, but there’s a fingerprint reader, so I figured I’d be home free, in the supermarket too. [Narrator: He was wrong.]
So I programmed my index finger, thumb, and face into the Pixel 7. Sometimes they work, when I awkwardly manage to hit the no-physical-target on-screen sensor. When I’m in bright light it usually lets me in instantly via face-recognition. But fingerprint access is, irritatingly, nowhere as near as good as it was in 2016.
What was even more irritating — maddening — was that the fingerprint reader went completely on strike when I was out shopping. Every freaking time, it sneered at my futile finger stabs and forced me into one-handed-typist mode.
But wait, something here doesn’t add up. I’ve enabled fingerprint recognition in a couple of apps. They almost always work first time, and when they don’t, another tap gets me there. Anywhere. Any time.
It’s the mask, stupid · Yep. I disabled the face-unlock, and there you go. Haven’t typed the PIN in days. Oh wait, look what it says there in the preferences screen: “…your phone will ask you for your fingerprint when you wear a mask or are in a dark area.” Based on my experience, that’s just wrong: When I’m wearing a mask it won’t take my fingerprint.
I miss face unlock. A little. Maybe. But ain’t turning it back on.
Put another way, protecting yourself (and the people around you) from the pandemic disables biometric unlock.
Um, dear Google, I think this is wrong. Maybe there could be a setting to allow face to fail over to finger? Um, the KN95’s I wear are a stylish downtown black. Please don’t tell me the highly-touted Tensor silicon thinks masks have to be ugly institutional white?
Whatever. The way it is now is wrong.