Face Unlock in Ice Cream Sandwich is a neat trick, but it isn’t the safest of security measures. Immediately after ICS hit, users found that simply using a still photograph would easily trick the OS into unlocking. In Jelly Bean, Google has an answer.
To nullify clever individuals from tricking the feature, Google has added a new “liveness check,” which requires the owner to blink before unlock can be verified. If the person does not blink, the device will display a failure screen and ask for a pin or pattern unlock that was set up during face unlock.
It’s a smart and elegant way to stop what was previously an easy workaround. We quickly tried to trick liveness check with a photo, but came up unsuccessful. However, we did manage to unlock the phone using a video, but it’s unlikely that a thief will 1) Have a video of you; and 2) Have a video of you blinking.
The new feature proves that Google absorbs community feedback, and actively creates ways to make its products better. Liveness check can be tricked with some effort, but we don’t expect folks to go to the lengths we went to.