Share this Story

Face Unlock On Galaxy Nexus Is Very Neat, But Easily Compromised With a Picture?

The world was introduced to the Galaxy Nexus’ facial recognition setting at the Ice Cream Sandwich launch.  While it may not have worked perfectly in the dim lighting on stage, most of us were still impressed. Hold your beautiful mug in front of the camera and the phone will recognize you and unlock itself.  True definition of a smartphone.  But what happens when you use a picture of yourself instead of your actual face?  A video showing a man holding a picture of himself in front of the G-Nex that is programmed to recognize his actual face (not the picture like he accidentally says in the video) to unlock it has just surfaced and it reminds everyone that maybe your face isn’t the best way to keep your device secure.  Not that any of us thought that it would be.  Cool trick to show off to your friends, but after that it doesn’t serve a very useful purpose.  Full video down below.


Via: Phandroid

  • cristhian montiel

    if asians and mexicans look alike would it confuse it as well??

  • Anonymous

    all you got to do is make a signature face expression that was never been picture taken, then viola!!! you got yourself a new face expression password for the phone 

  • Anonymous

    Quite frankly I never understood why there isn’t a fingerprint unlock yet.

  • Jake

    Most of the Android users that I know don’t use the PIN or pattern unlock at all, just the swipe to unlock. So, this would be a step up in security for those folks. Also, I saw a screen grab of the ICS screen where the user would select which unlock method he prefers. Each method was labeled with its level of security offered, and they were listed in order by least secure to most secure (or maybe I have that backwards). Anyway, for face unlock it clearly said low security, so Google is aware of what people are saying here.

    Also, I think that in most true phone theft cases the thief is a complete stranger who is unlikely to know who the owner is, much less have a picture of the owner.

  • 6895533

    lmao that galaxy nexus looks so small and cheap next to the samsung note i want the note so bad does anyone know if will get it soon ill pay full retail for that phone if i have 2.

  • Anonymous

    Face unlock = gimmick

    But, I still want one! Hurry up Verizon and take my cash!

  • Anonymous

    thing is yes face unlock won’t stop your friend from taking a pic of you and getting in. but if it is stolen and/or lost and the person has a picture of you to unlock it with you might have bigger concerns as to why they have photos of you and are wanting to get into your phone.

  • Anonymous

    Ehhh just another gimmick IMO..I’ll stick with a pin # instead

  • Anonymous

    Maybe you could make a funny face. Then it would be hilarious to see you unlock your phone in public.

    :~) = Access Denied :~O = Access Granted

  • Anonymous

    I’m just waiting for a breath sensor that can tell it’s you.

    “Hello [Your Name]. You have been drinking again tonight, should I block you from calling your ex-girlfriends again?”

  • Ray

    Please delete this post before my girlfriend sees it thanks!

  • babadush

    I find it worrisome a regular person can ask “what if you use a picture ” yet developers at google don’t think about this.

  • Harish K

    Does anyone know if Exchange server policy would allow use of this method? I havent seen the ‘connect the dots’ option being allowed. This seems to be similar. If so, a lot users with corporate email on their phones won’t be able to use this feature.

  • DUH. I’m not the type to say “I told you so,” but I find it hard to believe that this wasn’t criticized from Day 1. I immediately thought of this “workaround” while everyone was going oohhh and ahhh. I’m not the brightest crayon in the box, so I’m sure others out there had to be thinking the same. Yet somehow, I never saw it mentioned once during the DL chat session during the unveiling or in any comments on G-Nex articles since. Maybe I just haven’t been paying attention?

  • whoster69

    I wondered if this might be the case.  Wish I had my Gnex so I could test it out!

  • Anonymous

    It still protects you from someone unlocking a lost phone.  I’m not really concerned with someone who knows me stealing my phone or data.

  • Anonymous

    : Interesting. So technically anyone doesn’t have to have a picture of us. They could pull one up on their phone using Facebook or G+ or something and still unlock it. Although the person would have to know you or know of you and has seen your profile before.

    I’m not really concerned about all this too too much. But maybe we should start using fingerprints instead. Place thumb in center > screen line scans > verified print > unlocks phone. 3 seconds. lol

    • Anonymous

      Atrix has fingerprint and it’s fast. I wish phones had it but I see how its an unnecessary addition

  • Anonymous

    Face unlock… isn’t swiping your finger across the screen easier and faster!? Yes it is actually.

    • Anonymous

      The alternative would be typing in a pin or swiping in an unlock pattern, not the screen lock since its intended for device security purposes. 

  • Anonymous

    I have an identical twin…I bet he could unlock the phone if it was programmed to my face. 

  • Anonymous

    wait, but wouldn’t someone have to go to a lot of trouble to do this…? Any person who would attempt to gain access to the phone would not have a picture of me right?

  • FortitudineVincimus

    what if you didnt use your face, but used something like your wiener?

    • yes this is logical, so when you are at the mall and want to unlock your phone you will whip it out and prove its you…

  • Anonymous

    Does anyone know if the face detection feature will be on the Nexus only or specific to ICS?

    •  As the Nexus is stock Android, this is an Ice Cream Sandwich specific feature.

  • FortitudineVincimus

    face unlock = marketing ploy = FAIL

    I love the fact he laughs and clowns it

  • Anonymous

    Is the Face detection unlock specific to the Nexus or ICS? 

  • Lgreg64

    just what i was thinking would happen.

  • well it is a deterrent. In security that is your first line. a typical person will not go and try to find a picture to unlock your phone. they will look at it, see its locked and set it back down. Unlocked – curiosity is one of our greatest assets and possibly a big weakness(in the right circumstances).

    Yes, it is not secure in an enterprise sense. But in a personal use sense. It is a great way to lock and unlock. Hell if you are parking stuff on your phone that you really don’t want people to see then you should already know that facial recognition, in this form, is not secure.

  • Jack24

    So what who really has a picture of you to take anyways

  • BOOM

    Actually if I lost my phone. It is programed to explode like a dye pack when you rob a bank. Red dye is sprayed all over the person that has possession of it. Talk about being red in the face……..

  • Anonymous

    My laptop has face face unlock on it and a picture wont work at all. It watches to see if you move around. Was hoping the Gnex would use the same ideas 🙁

    • Anonymous

      : It’s a developing technology. First gen is always a stab. Next round I’m sure they will put this to rest and make it even faster.

  • Anonymous


  • El El Kool J

    wow if you really are gonna carry around a photo of me so you can unlock my phone go ahead and unlock it.. nut job.. lol.. 

    I think i’d be more concerned on why do you have a profile picture of me with you at all times.. ?? lol

  • Pog-Mo-Thoin

    But what if you had the face of Rocky Dennis? Beer please!

  • Wait.. You mean a 2D camera can’t tell the difference between a 2 identical “images”?

    Well this is obviously just terrible then..


  • Anonymous

    if you put a picture of the razr in front of it, it unlocks it!…. but also starts to suck to

  • I wish the Samsung Note was available on Verizon. I’d take that over any of the 3 new phones.

  • it’s safer than a swipe and easier than a pin, it’s the middle option

  • Anonymous

    Who cares if it’s easily compromised? It’s still pretty cool and yet another thing the iPhone doesn’t do.

    • Anonymous

      Who cares if it’s another half-baked, easily exploitable “feature” as long as Apple doesn’t have it. Grow up. It’s a damn phone lol.

      • Billyrouth2000

        Obviously you cared enough to comment.

    • Mike Ambrosino

      I hate to be “that guy” because I love all things android but I’m pretty sure iPhone’s did have this through Cydia

  • It wouldn’t be any different than not having a password on your phone with the slide to unlock. I guess the real question would be can you set a pattern/pin to prompt after the face unlock… if not, THEN i can see if being a problem

  • Matthew Harmon

    Well at least if the someone needs to get to your ICE, they can use your driver’s licence to get into your phone…

  • Zeadaplaya

    If someone has your phone, what are the odds they will have a close up picture of your face?

  • Anonymous

    This is just NOT a safe way to lock your phone. The safest way will always be a password of some sort. Google admitted that that a “high res” photo will trick the unlock. It’s just a fun/easy way to unlock it with a modicum of security. Instead of a slide (which I would guess that most people use these days without a PIN) just show your face. It’s just one less swipe. Slightly more convenient.

    Use it for what it is. A fun and easy way to unlock your phone. Don’t use it like a key. Durrrr.

  • I saw this last night and my source then later went on to say that he had programmed FaceUnlock with the picture in the first place. If true, this doesn’t make it so surprising that it works. If there was a video of him programming FaceUnlock with his face, taking a picture of his face, and THEN using that picture of his face to unlock his phone, THEN there might be a little more concern.

    I realize it may not be the most secure, but I think this video doesn’t tell the whole story…

  • Fattie McDoogles

    It should also do a blood test.

    • and a seaman sample

      • Fattie McDoogles

        guess any women who want to use this phone are screwed… *insert rim shot* 

      • Anonymous

        Does that mean you have to randomly select one person from the Navy and show it to the Nexus?

    • Dylan Blom

      diabetics should do this and it will check their glucose numbers too 

  • Fattie McDoogles

    Retinal scan anyone? 

  • No one is going to use that feature anyway …

  • EC8CH

    wonder what happens when you show it your “O” face?

    • Anonymous

      Actually, exactly what I was thinking of.  Does it differentiate between a smile or some other “type” of face?  I will just make some crazy ass face for face unlock.

  • Mack

    Honestly I see this as a novelty I would show off to people if the opportunity ever arose, but I would not actually  use it as a primary way to unlock my phone. 

  • Anonymous

    maybe you can make a different face..with your face lol to unlock the phone. ex. stick your tongue out at your phone lol or raise an eyebrow or fish face. I know I dont have any pictures taken like that so finding a picture would be hard. then again you might look like a tard unlokcing your phone haha

  • hatethanet

    They should try this with people’s Facebook profile pics.

  • Chris Sandoval

    Your phone deserves to be hacked if your find youself to pose for a picture like that for anyone! Besides inmates.. Who takes pictures like that? Than let alone hand them your phone.

    Its like using your Android lock screen pin and than not wiping the screen so the next person can follow the oil on the screen through the glare!

  • Anonymous

    I wouldn’t say it’s useless. Not the most secure, but if someone steals your phone or you lose it somewhere, they probably don’t have a picture of you.

  • EC8CH

    Hey that’s a cool looking phone!

    When can I get one on Verizon?

  • Rick

    Not stopping me or my wife on getting the Galaxy Nexus. Only way for us not getting one if VZW screws it up, like they did with the Nexus One.

  • Whett Phartz

    Um… duh? 

  • Anonymous

    Who cares, its mostly for fun anyway. I’m sure they will tweek it soon enough. Add a wait till it blinks feature or something like that. 

  • It would work if you left it at the bar by accident.

  • Anonymous

    I notice you’ve gained 10lbs…access denied

    • Justincantor1

      If anyone wants face recognition now,download Visidon from the market.There’s a free version and a paid.I can tell you it works perfectly and there is a feature that detects stillness,or a photo in other words.You need the paid version to unlock your home screen.

  • GianCarlo Bregaglio

    Oh well.  This doesn’t make the phone any less appealing.

  • It is about as secure as the pattern unlock, if you don’t wipe your phone screen down regularly.

  • hatethanet

    I wish he compared the size differences between the Note and G-Nex in more detail. I’m curious about that.

  • Bryan Paul

    I mean obviously. Face Unlock to me isn’t supposed to be like Fort Knox security. For someone to have your picture they have to be targeting you and prepared to unlock your phone with picture in hand. Most likely this will just have nerdy friends playing pranks on each other. 

  • hatethanet

    Face unlock seems like a gimmick to me at this point anyway.

  • Tyler

    Well, guess I don’t need to test this out now. 🙂

    EDIT: Also you would think that the software would recognize the picture and figure out, hey that’s the same thing i just say about 3 seconds ago, and work for the first few times but after that stop.

  • nexus on the brain

    This is also on the gigantic Note….I suppose if someone were to obtain your high school 8 1/2 x 11, they might be able to do this too….

  • Chris G

    Would be nice if I could try that for myself.

    Damn you VZ, where is my GNexus?

  • Anonymous

    Well there’s a feature I won’t be using on my Galaxy Nexus.

  • Dominick DeVito

    I think 11:11 11/11/11 screwed up Disqus

  • DeJecTus

    Haven’t they said there are multiple settings for the face recognition? I had that on my Asus computer and on the lowest security setting it would unlock with a picture of myself but on the highest setting I had trouble with it unlocking with my actual face… 

  • Anonymous

    I’m not TOO worried about this. I figure that if I lose my phone to some stranger, they won’t know who I am and won’t have a picture of me, hopefully…

  • Anonymous

    They don’t tout it as a security feature, more a screen unlock method. It’s one step above slide to unlock.


    • Dontdoubtthedel

      That image shows it as one step below…

  • Man why are comments always so wonky!!! Is it Disqus that’s screwed up or what?

  • GotSka81

    Couldn’t it still be used to recognize another part of your body other than your face?  Maybe a finger?  (ie, take a picture of your finger and hold it up to the camera to unlock).  Who has a picture of their finger laying around?

    • Most likely not because facial recognition is designed to recognize faces. It isn’t an image match, but a measurement of distances between your eyes, nose, mouth, etc.

  • Anonymous

    There isn’t any chance that buying a Nexus from overseas would work on Verizon would it?

  • Bewara2009

    This even makes me want it more!

  • Wife and I were discussing this issue as well as the possibility of our child holding the phone to our face to unlock it during a nap and the possible issues with that.

  • Earl Echols

    Visidon AppLock Plus does all this but has a “Liveness Detection” feature to make sure its not a picture. Its pretty cool.

  • sparty569

    Isnt this something [email protected]:twitter mentioned a long time ago?

  • Hahayeah

    I was first…..where’s mah first at?

    • Anonymous

      Na, when it all starts working again you will find you were nowhere near first.  sorry….

  • John

    before anyone asks, yes he did program the phone with his face & not a picture

    (google said it wouldn’t be possible in final version)

  • Hahayeah


  • ETA?

  • nexus on the brain

    Gimme a break….some turkey is going to steal your phone, and does anyone believe that they will also get a “just-right” picture of you to be able to do this…..the sky might fall tomorrow too

    • I don’t think it’s so much of an issue of a stranger stealing your phone, but somebody that does know you could do this trick to get access to your phone.

      • Anonymous

        Like nosy girl friends

        • Anonymous

          well then don’t have a nosy girlfriend. lol.

    • Anonymous

      Dang it, I read turkey and you made me so hungry. Can’t wait for Thanksgiving dinner lol

    • Mike Ambrosino

      If someone that stole or borrowed the phone is friends with you on a social network then they could go through your profile pictures and boom they’re in.

  • Anonymous

    As the apple homers say about Siri, it’s still in beta!

  • Anonymous

    Why would anyone be surprised by this?

  • Hahayeah


  • Anonymous

    Did NOT think that one through…

  • This is exactly what I was trying to say when they revealed this! I knew this would be a problem.

  • This is exactly why I’ll never trust biometrics. Haven’t you all seen the movies where someone takes a person’s eye out to pass a security door?

    • Anonymous

      Right, and good ol’ fashion keys are far more secure.

    • Sp4rxx

      wow way to call back to Demolition Man … lol

    • Repoman88

      That won’t work anymore because of pulse ox sensors. They got smart

  • I’m pretty sure most of us realized this was a probable flaw as soon as they tried to demo it on stage in Hong Kong.

  • F-DaIphone

    iPhone lovers comment against the Nexus in 3..2..1..

  • Yeah, but when is the release date?

  • Anonymous

    I guess you’d better make sure that in every existing and future photo of yourself, you’re making a really screwed up face.

  • Jason Purp

    What did you expect?

  • Anonymous

    Yeah I was wondering about that… whoopsie Google.  I’ll still try it though.

  • Justen Castle

    I could have guess that, you would almost need a 3D camera to make it more secure.

  • Anonymous

    I was thinking about this exact thing yesterday. 

  • Dominick DeVito

    Set your phone to unlock to a beautiful woman and keep a picture of her in your pocket at all times. 

    • Anonymous

      Now thats using both of your heads!

  • Anonymous

    What if you were ugly… would another ugly person work also?

    • Anonymous

      lmao wtf

  • Anonymous


  • Dominick DeVito

    Cool feature, but won’t use it much only because it takes too long

    • EC8CH

      Looked pretty fast in that video.

    • Jaime Ramirez


    • From every video demonstration I’ve seen, it works really quick. I don’t think it’s just a gimmick.