Samsung's version of Android 10 will beef up its face unlock security

S10 front camera
S10 front camera (Image credit: Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Samsung's version of Android 10, called One UI 2.0, features more secure facial recognition for unlocking your Galaxy S10.
  • The Galaxy S10 can now recognize users even when they are wearing hats or sunglasses by using "alternative looks".
  • A new setting also requires you to have your eyes open during the recognition process, ensuring you're not just a picture of you.

While the Galaxy S10 doesn't have all the fancy new facial recognition hardware that the Pixel 4 sports, that isn't stopping Samsung from trying to deliver the best possible experience. Samsung did away with the iris scanner in its 2019 flagships in favor of a single or dual camera on the front of its phones, but did so at the expense of a key biometric authentication feature.

Face unlock is better than ever in Samsung's version of Android 10, dubbed One UI 2.0, owing in part to two new options that are present in the latest beta build. One of the weakest points to Samsung's single-camera methodology is that it hasn't been able to ID users correctly while they're wearing hats or sunglasses. A new option titled "Add alternative look" aims to solve this very problem by allowing users to register several looks that they might typically don. Users will be able to register the visual cues of several different accessories, helping to build a better model in the phone for exactly what you look like.

The second new option is one that requires eyes to be open in order for the phone to register your look. Samsung still features the option to allow biometric authentication with your eyes closed, but the usage of this option is typically warned against since it isn't looking for signs of life. That new setting will require normal human movements, like eye movement and blinking, before the phone unlocks, which should help a bit when someone is trying to use a picture of you to unlock your phone.

What's rather strange is that the option for faster recognition isn't disabled when flipping the switch for requiring open eyes, which is counter-intuitive. We're unsure if this is just a bug in the beta build or an oversight on Samsung's behalf, but these settings certainly seem to fight one another.

Facial recognition via a camera is still significantly less secure and accurate than dedicated facial recognition hardware, but Samsung's latest options in the Android 10 beta are certainly a step in the right direction to making camera-based facial recognition at least a little more usable.

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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