Apple has applied for a facial recognition locking and unlocking system patent, as Patently Apple describes. Currently Android has applied this system to all 4.0 devices with a front-facing camera. Users are able to essentially use their face to unlock their phones, and if that doesn’t work the user can type in a backup password. The only flaw is that people with a similar appearance can easily gain access to the device and it fails to work in low-lighting conditions.
Patently Apple detailed the patent as being slightly different than its Android competitor’s version. If you aren’t holding the device, but it’s on, the feature will lock the device automatically. While on the other end, if you pickup the device, it will unlock assuming the face matches the owner.
A more in-depth description:
Consider that the deviceis initially locked. In that state, the camera captures an initial image. When movement of the device is detected, the camera captures a new image. The device then determines whether it has moved to a use position (i.e., a position that indicates that a user is likely to want to use the device) by comparing the new image with the initial image. If the device has moved to a use position, the camera captures a subsequent image, and the subsequent image is analyzed to detect a user’s face. If a user’s face is detected in the subsequent image, the device is automatically unlocked. This unlocks the locked device without requiring the user to press a sequence of buttons (e.g., to enter a password) each time the user wants to use the device.
An Apple facial recognition patent was revealed in December, but didn’t involve unlocking an iOS device.
Would you use face recognition unlocking over the typical password and slide to unlock? After trying the Samsung Galaxy S3 I found face unlocking to be more of a hassle because it can sometimes be a longer unlocking process.