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Google Adds “Liveness Check” Option to Face Unlock in Jelly Bean, Requires Blinking

When Face Unlock was first introduced through Ice Cream Sandwich, Android enthusiasts were quick to test its level of security. They quickly found it to be easily bypassable if you had a photo of the person that it was programmed for. While there may be few instances where someone has stolen your phone and also has a picture of you lying around, it was still an issue. Well, not any longer. 

In Jelly Bean, a new option called the “Liveness check” looks to address this by forcing you to blink in order to get your phone to unlock. I’ve tested it a bit this morning and it seems to work well. Once it recognizes your face, which is faster than ever, a message comes on the screen that reads “Blink now.” Once your blink it unlock.

To add this to your device, jump into Settings>Security. Then choose Face Unlock as your Screen lock option, set it up, and then as you finish, check the box for “Liveness check.”

Cheers Dave!

  • socalrailroader

    Darn, I guess this means no using somebody’s cut off head to unlock their phone. 🙁 😀

  • feztheforeigner

    It’s still very insecure because if I find/steal a phone I might have a video saved of the owner!


    • blood

      Too bad there’s no SD card on the galaxy nexus ooh.

      • feztheforeigner

        I guess that’s why they did that! Just thinking ahead of the game!

  • edward

    actually if you pass your hand quickly over your face, you can defeat the blink feature.

  • ChuckDz3

    I like how they added ‘make pattern visible’ as well. Before people could just glance over once and catch your pattern because it was highlighted. Oh the little things in JB 🙂

  • Crazydog

    Wow. This is now secure enough for me to use. Sweet! 😛

  • r0lct

    Off topic but anyone else notice their GNex boots faster with JB or am I imagining it?

  • TrevorSP

    I am so jelly of you people right now! No pun intended…

  • Chimera

    So who’s willing to try printing a picture of someones face, cut out eye slits, wear it as a mask and blink. It would be fun to see if that works.

  • Doesn’t seem like it will work for those of us that wear glasses. Would have to take them off or lower them just to get the phone to register our blinking action. 🙁

    • Just tried it because of this comment and it works fine, sir. 5 out of 5 times.

  • BigJon

    What if they cut holes in my picture and blink for me? lol

    • J

      I think this is a valid concern. i’d love for someone to test this out.

  • ddevito

    Blink once for YES
    two for NO

    I have no idea what you’re talking about.

    • zepfloyd

      don’t give away the secrets for Project Glass just yet…

  • Tl Daniel

    How’s the response time in comparison to using your pin or pattern to unlock the phone?

  • gbenj

    For what its worth, if you have a video of someone blinking and play it in front of the unlock screen it does let you in.

    So yeah, not impenetrable but definitely another layer of security. (Id imaging most people don’t have videos of people blinking lying around)

    • Pablo

      Apple has an app for that.

  • “Once your blink it unlock.” I read this as a little Chinese boy.

    • J Dub

      Except it would be “Once your brink it unrock”

    • fallsgable

      I want feature…but I still be on Ice Cleam Sandwich….Want Jerry Bean…..Prease!

      • Fattie McDoogles

        SO NOT RIGHT!!!! lmao

  • kniceguy

    I was wondering how they were going to get around this. Seems pretty obvious now but I never would have thought of it, clever.

  • yay?

  • Ed Cerqueira

    I just wish they would do what Motorola did with their version of ICS, allow it so if you set the Face Unlock to only be needed 10 minutes after locking, the normal slide to unlock would appear within those 10 minutes rather than just unlocking straight to the screen. I would love for that to be an option so that I still have my normal slide to unlock screen and only if I am away from my phone for a long time will I need to do a secure unlock.

  • But what about when people steal my phone and have a video of me blinking!?!

    • You would have to have friends for that!

      • Paolo_Ozaraga

        You know what they say: keep your friends close, and a video of them blinking even closer

  • RedPandaAlex

    Still not impenetrable though. Wouldn’t be too hard to find a picture of you and photoshop it to blink.

    Don’t get me wrong, I think face unlock is awesome. I don’t use it for two reasons: 1) my Exchange account requires a PIN and 2) I like to put my contact info on the lock screen in case I lose the phone, and I don’t want someone to be able to look me up on facebook or something to find a picture of me that will unlock it.

    • Hunter

      Very few security measures out there are completely impenetrable. It’s all a matter of how much effort is required to break them and now with this improvement, face unlock gets a little more secure.

    • lmao that’s a good one man. Photoshopping a picture to blink. Good one bro.

    • kniceguy

      Seems much less feasible for someone to put the effort into creating a gif (is this what you are saying?) of a person blinking, plus it would have to work on screen and be high enough resolution. At that point you would think there would be other/easier options for stealing someones info.

  • ChrisTraeger1

    Jelly Bean is so awesome. I feel like it should be 5.0 or something not 4.1

    • The question is, what stuff do they have in store for us with 5.0 to not make it Jelly Bean

      • ChrisTraeger1

        Oh I know. If this is ONLY 4.1 one cannot even imagine 5.0!

        • MikeCiggy

          It’s 4.1 because it isn’t really an entirely new os. It’s more like small additions and the cleaning up of ice cream s sandwich. 5.0 will probably include major changes in the graphics and functionality sections.

          • ChrisTraeger1

            Yes I know this. I’m just in awe of the amazing new features. It’s incredible and almost feels like a new OS.

  • mustbepbs

    That’s actually a pretty great idea on their part. Impressive.

    • I have been using it with that checked for a few days, it works very well except when walking it does not. Also face unlock saw huge improvements and works now like 99.99% of the time.