In my Pixel 8 Pro review, I pointed out that the in-display fingerprint reader google used was once again not the best. This is an optical fingerprint reader that blasts a bunch of light onto your finger to read it and verify that it is yours before unlocking. It works most of the time, but it's just a tad too slow for my liking and the handful of misreads from it throughout a day sure add up. But in that review, I also noted that Google put in true face unlock, so this fingerprint reader should (in theory) be less of a nuisance.
In an attempt to follow-up on that point, I am here to tell you that, yes, the face unlock is everything. While a minor feature, the fact that it does indeed allow you to mostly ignore the middle-of-the-road fingerprint reader is major and should further prove to be the longer we all use this phone.
To recap the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro face unlock, I would direct you to a couple of mentions from Google on launch day last month. Google talked about the Pixel 8's improved face unlock in a write-up on the phones and also in a write-up about their Tensor G3 chips. Google says the Pixel 8 line's face unlock “now meets the strongest android biometric class,” which allows it to be used for more than just unlocking your phone. They give “thanks to new machine learning advancements” for this achievement, and that's notable, since they didn't add special biometric hardware to either phone and are instead making this all happen with a single selfie camera.
What does that mean in practice? It means you can unlock your phone with your face, as the name of the feature suggests. However, it also means you can login to secure areas with your face too, like a banking app or Google Wallet. Where I find it to be particularly awesome is in autofill or the password manager of the phone, because I login to stuff all of the time, and this just uses my face to access those areas instead of the sh*tty fingerprint reader. Where I mentioned all of the fingerprint misreads adding up throughout a day, the same can be said in a positive manner for face unlock, as it comes in handy enough in a day that I'm now writing a post about it.
I'd also point out that face unlock on the Pixel 8 and Pixel 8 Pro is just fast, adding to its convenience. Like, I can't tell you how many times the fingerprint reader failed and then I still saw the unlock icon appear because the phone had already read my face instead. It's a beautiful thing to see. I'm still training my brain to fully ignore the fingerprint reader, because it does present itself out of the gate, but we'll get there.
For those of you who haven't bought into face unlock and may now want to give it a try, you can access it by heading into Settings>Security & privacy>Device unlock>Fingerprint & Face unlock. From there, you can add your face in addition to multiple fingerprints, and also control whether or not your face unlocks your phone and verifies in apps.