Google Pumps Up Jelly Bean’s Face Unlock Feature With A New ‘Liveness Check’

Back when Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich was first introduced in Hong Kong last year plenty of us jaded tech folk took a shine to its new Face Unlock feature, which allows users to unlock their devices with their front-facing cameras.

Of course, we now know that it isn’t terribly secure — a picture of your face was apparently good enough to fool it — but Google seems to have made Face Unlock just a bit more secure in their early Jelly Bean release.

According to the folks on the xda-developer forums (who seem to have had more luck installing the leaked Jelly Bean ROMs than I have), Face Unlock now has a new “Liveness Check” feature that requires a person to blink before the device in question unlocks itself.

Nifty stuff, especially as it removes the possibility of a static photo providing access to a user’s apps, information, and content, but it’s hardly foolproof. What’s to say a recorded video (or even better: a GIF) of someone played back on a monitor or another phone wouldn’t be enough to let some persistent stranger into a device? It goes without saying that even with this new change in place, the more security-conscious among you should stick with something more heavy duty from the outset — say, a heavy duty PIN or password.

Still, Face Unlock is one of those whiz-bang features that lends itself well to being shown off, and it’s reassuring to see that people who do use it have another way to help keep creepers out of their business.

Hat tip to Jays2Kings on the AndroidCentral forums for the image.