As facial recognition software gets more and more sophisticated, it will also become more and more affordable – appearing on many of our electronic devices. While not foolproof – just yet – the Face Unlock feature built into your new Android phone does pretty well.
The argument against using facial recognition software is that it is too easy to “fool” the software into thinking you are the owner. Fortunately, Samsung also includes a “backup” recognition using standard PIN or Pattern input.
Setting up Face Lock on Android phones
Out of the box, your typical Ice Cream Sandwich Android phone does not have security enabled.
- Tap the Settings icon to get to the Settings app
- Scroll down to Personal and then tap on Security
- Tap on Screen Lock and choose:
a. None – for no locking at all
b. Slide- for the typical slide to unlock
c. Face Unlock – to set the Face Unlock feature
d. Pattern – to set a Pattern unlock
e. PIN – to set a standard four digit PIN unlock
f. Password – to set a more secure password to unlock
For our purposes, choose Face Unlock. Read the warning notice that a Face Unlock is less secure than a Pattern, PIN or Password. Now you are ready to have your Android phone capture your face to unlock the phone.
- Tap Continue
- Move a little away from the front facing camera so your face fits in the Show Your Face screen.
- Center your face in the outlined area marked “put your face here.”
- You will receive a Face Captured screen if the Face Unlock setup was successful.
Once the Face Unlock is set to your face, you will be prompted to now set up a backup lock. In case the phone does not recognize you (this can happen for a bunch of reasons) it will revert to another method for secure unlocking of the phone.
- Choose one of the two backup methods listed; Pattern or PIN
- For a Pattern unlock, slide your finger to connect at least four dots in any pattern of your choosing.
- Repeat the pattern to confirm the choice.
- For a PIN unlock, simply input a four digit PIN – repeat to confirm.
Using the Face Unlock feature on your Android phone
Using Face Unlock is very simple, just turn on the device and look at the front facing camera. You will see an area in the middle of the screen to capture your face, try to put yourself in the same position as you did when you set up Face Unlock.
If you get an error message telling you that the phone did not recognize you, it will automatically default to the backup unlock method chosen.
Either input your PIN or complete the Pattern than you originally chose and the phone will unlock.
Setting the time before the phone locks
Depending on your phone, it might lock immediately after the screen goes off. On my EVO 4G LTE, the default was to lock immediately and on my HTC One X, the default was to lock after 15 minutes. Locking immediately is sort of a pain since you then have to look at your phone every single time you turn it on. I found that setting the Lock phone after field to 5 minutes was a good amount of time.
- Go to the Settings menu
- Go to Security
- Tap on the Lock phone after tab
- Choose the desired time
All in all, Face Unlock works surprisingly well on the new Android phones. It is easy to set up, fun to use and it adds the necessary layer of security so that if someone were to “steal” your device, they would not have access to your personal information.
If you are very security conscious, remember that this is perhaps the “least” secure option of those listed as screen unlock choices – but it is certainly much more secure than no security at all.