Alright, you made it through the Android 13 beta program and once the stable version of Android 13 was released, you were able to exit the program without having to wipe your Pixel. Now, you have the opportunity to start all over again by joining the Android 13 Quarterly Platform Release (QPR) Beta. The Quarterly Platform Release is made up of the features that Google will drop in December. You might know this as the Quarterly Pixel Feature Drop.
Android 13 QPR1 Beta hints that Face Unlock is coming to the Pixel 6 Pro
If you sign up for the beta now, you will have to go through three Beta releases until the final stable release is disseminated. Android 13 QPR1 Beta, according to Google, “includes the next round of refinements such as bug fixes and improvements to stability and performance.” It sounds quite enticing and one of the things it does bring back is the Unified Pixel Launcher search which was removed with the stable version of Android 13.
A still from the Face Unlock animation found in the Android 13 QPR1 Beta
So if you decide to install the Android 13 QPR1 Beta, the search field at the bottom of the homescreen will now (once again) look like the search field at the top of the app grid which means that the latter will have the link to the Google app at the left of the field, the microphone icon for Assistant, and the link to Google Lens at the right. However, the results still differ depending on whether you use the search on the bottom of the homescreen or the one on top of the app grid.
Interestingly, 9to5Google did a deep dive into an app that Google uploaded to the Play Store and found strings of code related to Face Unlock for the Pixel 6 Pro. One string said, “Face Unlock works best when there’s enough light and you’re not wearing a mask or dark glasses.” Another string of code points out that “If you normally wear eyeglasses, you can wear them during setup.”
This would seem to indicate that possibly as soon as the next Quarterly Pixel Feature Drop in December, Google might disseminate Face Unlock for the Pixel 6 Pro. This could be offered using a simple software update because the Pixel 6 Pro front camera supports dual-pixel auto-focus (DPAF) allowing the handset to create depth maps of your face. This would allow the system to be secure since a facial recognition system using a depth map can’t be tricked using a photograph like 2D facial recognition systems can be.
Users will be told to “hold your phone at eye level” and despite the depth maps, Google notes that Face Unlock is “less secure than a strong pattern, PIN, or password.” Google also will tell users that looking at the phone could unlock it accidentally. Even if your eyes are closed, someone can put the phone up to your face while you’re sleeping (or unconscious) and unlock the device. And your phone can be unlocked by someone who looks like you like a sibling, a twin, or a doppelganger.
Here’s how to join the Android 13 QPR1 Beta
The new code related to this iteration of Face Unlock is called “Traffic Light.” Tellingly, the code is found on the Pixel 6 Pro but not the Pixel 6 or the Pixel 6a. The latter two phones don’t have an imaging sensor that offers Dual Pixel Auto-Focus (DPAF) allowing depth maps to be created.
Still from animation showing the Pixel Tablet and its dock found in Android 13 QPR1 Beta
The Android 13 QPR1 Beta also includes animations for the new Face Unlock and one for the upcoming Pixel Tablet that shows the device sliding into a dock.We’ve included still shots from both animations in this article.
To install the beta on your compatible Pixel model, go to the Android Beta for Pixel website. Click the box that says “View your eligible devices.” You’ll see a small photo of your Pixel. Tap the button on the bottom that says + Opt in. Within 24 hours you’ll receive an OTA update when you go to Settings > System > System update. Follow the instructions. You won’t be able to leave the Beta program without a data wipe unless you wait for the stable release to be dropped in December.
If you think that you might need to leave the Beta program, make sure you back up your data before joining. Remember, Beta software can be unstable and certain apps that you rely on might not work correctly.
While there is no guarantee that Face Unlock is coming to the Pixel 6 Pro, it sure sounds quite promising.
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