Face recognition was restored to the most recent Pixel phones Pixel handsets on Thursday, following brief interruptions due to issues regarding the cost and performance, as per three former employees of Google’s Alphabet Inc unit knowledgeable about the work.

The new feature of the Pixel 7 is not as efficient as the Apple Inc’s Face ID unlocking system, since it is prone to failing in dim light conditions and is more susceptible to being spoofed. Additionally, Google has said it isn’t secure enough enough to allow users to sign into apps or make payments.

The return follows Google has become more shrewd about launching products that use facial recognition. This was in part due to concerns over the performance of facial recognition on skin that is darker. Google decided to review the way it went about the training of facial recognition and to test it, which was not the case with the previous Pixel that had the feature was launched in the year 2019, one source claimed.

Google declined to answer some specific concerns regarding its experience using face unlock. The company said that in general, “Thanks to advanced machine learning models for face recognition, Pixel 7 and Pixel 7 Pro feature Face Unlock, but we’re doing it a little differently.” The company added, “We achieve good facial accuracy performance with the front-facing camera.”

Google’s quest to create face unlocking for Android smartphones has lasted for more than a decade, however, it was put under more stress when Apple announced Face ID in September 2017 according to sources.

At that time, Google struggled to devise an app that worked swiftly and was invulnerable to spoofing or the use of images or costumes that appear to be hyper-realistic to trick the phone of another person into unlocking, one of the sources claimed. Engineers experimented with the idea of requiring the use of a smile or blink to prove the individual’s “liveness” – to combat the trick, however it was slow and awkward according to the source.

Another source reported that after the launch of the iPhone’s Face ID, which uses an infrared and depth sensing camera called TrueDepth to create a map of the face of a person, Google executives signed off on a similar technology. The Google Pixel 4, released in 2019 was dubbed its infrared-based depth-sensing system called uDepth.

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It was able to perform well, even in dim conditions, and there was the possibility of more than a one-in-50,000 chance of unlocking phones with an untrusted face, as per Google.

However, the equipment was pricey. While Apple sells more than 240 million iPhones each year, Google has topped out with a couple of million, and isn’t buying components at the size discount Apple offers.

Google eliminated uDepth within its Pixel 5 in 2020 due to cost, sources said.

Face masking due to the pandemic was a Google reasons to remove the feature from the last version of Pixel 6 and additional research time, according to two sources.

Face unlock on new phones is based on a standard front camera. However, unlike the earlier system, it’s not able to secure enable apps or transactions because Google states that the chance of spoofing for spoofing – like holding a person’s picture that are more that 20%. This is which is above the threshold of 7% it must meet to be considered the most “secure.”

The low light levels and the sunglasses could cause problems, Google says, noting fingerprint unlocking is still a viable option.

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