I miss my fingerprint sensor but not for the reason you might think

Pixel 3a
Pixel 3a (Image credit: Android Central)

I'm both a fan and not a fan of biometrics. I'll admit I am using face unlock on the Pixel 4 since Google implemented lockdown mode so I can switch it off with a press of the power button, but I still don't love biometrics.

My fingerprint or my face is my identity, not my password. I may have 10 fingerprints but you know what I mean here. Those things are who I am, not my password. If someone somehow finds a way to get a copy of either then they might have just a set of fingerprints or a photo of my pretty face or they could have a way into anything that uses those to unlock my stuff.

On the other hand, the mere convenience factor of having biometrics means more people than ever are locking their phones and some of those people might have my details in their contacts app. I want everyone to lock their phones and I am that guy who nags my friends and family until they finally cave in and just do it to shut me up.

I finally convinced my family to use a secure lock screen because a fingerprint sensor makes it so easy.

But my love-hate relationship with biometrics isn't what I'm spending time writing words and complaining about — I miss having the fingerprint sensor because of one simple reason — I did convince my wife to lock her phone and realized that she can't unlock mine if I need her to do so.

I do not snoop on my wife's phone nor does she snoop on mine. I don't particularly care if my wife wants to look through my phone because she would find things that literally bored her out of her skull and I don't have any side-chicks or anything of the sort. We're pretty open with each other and try not to keep secrets. As far as I know, she feels the same way.

I say this because when she was setting up her latest phone (she goes through them way faster than I do) she did the same thing she usually does and handed it to me to add another fingerprint in case I needed to unlock her phone. And with the holiday season and all the driving I've done this year, I realized there are a lot of times you might want to unlock your partner's phone.

Sometimes you need to get into your partner's phone. Especially if they are driving.

My wife doesn't have her fingerprint registered on my phone because my phone has no fingerprint sensor. That means I can't tell her to do something like look at a browser bookmark I might have or to send off a text for me or to see what in tarnation is dinging me non-stop and what the person might want unless she wants to type in my ugly and complex password, which she does not want to do because it looks like comic book censored swearing. Imagine something like #$97t^&%%$ and you get the idea.

And as good as face unlock on the Pixel 4 is — it works marvelously for me, even with sunglasses on — you can only use one face. There is no way to add my wife as a backup face just in case. She doesn't have my stupid password memorized, so the only way she can unlock my phone is for me to call out the password character by character. That's something I can't do unless I am there and able to talk.

I found the funniest church sign in the world and couldn't send it to anyone because of my "stupid orange thing" 😭

My wife nailed it somewhere between North Carolina and Tennessee — her phone (she got a pink Pixel 3 XL for Christmas because that's what she asked for) was better than mine because mine was "stupid" and if I wanted to send that photo of a funny church sign to Dale I can pull over and do it myself or not use a phone like that stupid orange thing. To make matters worse, this forced a much-needed pit stop for food at a Wendy's instead of an authentic roadside filthy North Carolina barbeque stand pulled pork sandwich.

Holding my phone up to my face while I am driving so my wife can open my Maps app and see the little BBQ place I have starred or fire off a message to my best friend with a picture of a stupid road sign (these are the important things in life, dammit) is neither safe nor convenient. And would be completely unnecessary if I could add a way for my wife to pass the lock screen check on my phone. You can't always count on OK Google to do everything.

But I can always count on my wife.

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.