Google Pay now supports biometric facial recognition

Face unlock on the Pixel 4 XL
Face unlock on the Pixel 4 XL (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • The Google Pay Android app was updated on October 24 to support facial recognition in addition to fingerprint recognition for authentication.
  • Payments can now be made from Google Pay just by looking your phone if you own a Pixel 4.
  • Google Pay joins half a dozen other apps in providing support for Google's new BiometricPrompt API, which supports a range of biometric authentication methods deemed secure enough for mobile payments.

Slowly but surely we're seeing apps get updated with support for Android's BiometricPrompt API, a new back-end language that accepts more biometric methods of authentication than just fingerprint readers. That's, of course, since Google just launched the Pixel 4, which is the first Android phone carrying hardware that's sophisticated enough to replace your fingerprint with your face.

Google Pay is the latest app to support facial recognition in addition to fingerprint identification and, surprisingly enough, is the first Google app of its kind to support this feature. That's mainly because most Google apps just utilize your Google account for authentication, which you're already logged into thanks to owning an Android phone.

Folks who have a Pixel 4 already and use Google Pay on a daily basis can smile knowing that all they have to do is look at their phone when paying for merchandise at a terminal or sending friends and family money. The Google app will automatically identify you before any transaction goes through, verifying that you are, indeed, the one trying to spend your money. Grab the update on the Google Play Store to get the new feature, and enable the "Use biometrics instead" under the "sending money" section of the app's settings.

Biometric authentication support in Google Pay

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

As is pretty common with Google products, the rest of the teams at Google are scrambling to get the pieces of the puzzle together and support Google's latest push for facial recognition authentication over fingerprint identification. The result is that only a handful of apps support facial recognition as a way of logging in, but Google is requiring all developers to implement support of the BiometricPrompt API in-app updates that go out after November 1, 2019.

That means that, while your banking or other favorite app won't necessarily get facial recognition support after November 1, the next update they issue after Nov 1 will be required to support the tech in addition to fingerprint recognition. That's great news for all the Pixel 4's that are likely to be sold this Holiday season, as well as for the future of Android devices that include sophisticated facial recognition hardware.

These apps support the Pixel 4's face unlock feature

Nicholas Sutrich
Senior Content Producer — Smartphones & VR
Nick started with DOS and NES and uses those fond memories of floppy disks and cartridges to fuel his opinions on modern tech. Whether it's VR, smart home gadgets, or something else that beeps and boops, he's been writing about it since 2011. Reach him on Twitter or Instagram @Gwanatu