It Looks Like the Pixel 6 Could Get a Face Unlock Feature After All

It Looks Like the Pixel 6 Could Get a Face Unlock Feature After All
Someday, there could be a face unlock feature available on the Pixel 6. Maybe. (Photo: Sam Rutherford / Gizmodo)

In recent days there has been an uptick in Pixel 6 users on Twitter begging Google to bring back the face unlock feature it offered on previous Pixels. The company left out the ability in its latest flagship in favour of an in-screen fingerprint sensor. (Some users have reported issues with that feature, too.)

If the fingerprint scanner seems too slow, or you simply miss your face being the key, there may be some light on the horizon. There is a face unlock feature lurking in the Pixel’s software shadows. According to XDA Developers, source code in the latest Pixel 6 commit dump appears to refer to a face unlock feature.

A developer discovered that on July 9, Google introduced a code change to the Pixel 6’s PowerHAL config file. The description mentions an internal feature called “Tuscany,” which seems to refer to face unlock. There are mentions of Tuscany utilised for “expensive image processing” and that the “worst case scenario” would be for it not to attempt to unlock the phone. The developer expands on their findings in a Twitter thread (though much of it requires knowledge of source code before trying to parse).

Basically, it sounds like Google was working on a face unlock feature before the Pixel 6 and 6 Pro launch. It’s possible that there is already code for an existing face unlock feature buried deep within the hardware and that Google didn’t enable it merely because of some kinks that need to get worked out.

Of course, it’s all speculation for now, as Google hasn’t outright said that it dropped the feature. But other evidence has surfaced indicating that the feature was planned, including leaked advertising that mentioned the face unlock ability, as well as a screenshot showing it living alongside the fingerprint unlock. Whether Google plans to simply flip the switch at some point remains to be seen.