How to Set up Android Face Recognition

Unlock your Android device with your face

Businessman using using face recognition outdoors.

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Knowing how to set up Android face recognition on your phone or tablet allows you to unlock your device quicker while still protecting it from prying eyes. There are also steps you can take to improve the accuracy of Google Trusted face.

The instructions in this article apply to phones and tablets running Android Lollipop 5.0 or later, but some steps may vary slightly depending on your device's model.

How to Unlock an Android Device With Face Recognition

To set up Smart Lock so you can unlock your device with face recognition:

  1. Navigate to your device's Settings menu.

  2. Tap Security (or Security & Location in some versions of Android).

    Tap Security (or Security & Location in some versions of Android).
  3. Tap Smart Lock.

    Tap Smart Lock under the Device section.

    Before you can activate Smart Lock, you must first set up Screen Lock. Tap Screen Lock in the Security settings and choose a password, PIN, or pattern.

  4. Enter your password, PIN, or pattern.

  5. Tap Trusted face.

    Tap Trusted face.
  6. Tap Set Up, then tap Next on the following screen.

    Tap Set Up, then tap Next on the following screen.
  7. Hold your device in front of you and position it so your entire face is inside the dotted circle, then hold the device still as the white dots turn green.

    Hold your device in front of you and position it so that your entire face is inside the dotted circle, then hold the device still as the white dots turn green.

    If your camera is struggling to detect your face, seek out better indoor lighting conditions.

  8. Tap Next and Done.

  9. The next time your device locks, notice the silhouette icon at the bottom-center of the screen. This indicates your camera is searching for a face. If it recognizes you, the icon will become an open padlock. Swipe it to unlock your device.

    If the camera doesn't recognize you, you'll see a locked padlock, and you must use another authentication method to unlock the device. The same is true if you tap the screen before your face is detected. If you turn off your device, or it remains locked for more than four hours, Smart Lock will also be disabled.

  10. You're done!

How to Improve Android Face Recognition

Features such as facial hair, glasses, and piercings can confuse face identifiers. Lighting can also affect how your device perceives you. After setting up Smart Lock, you might as well optimize your device's face recognition capabilities:

  1. Go back to Settings > Security > Smart Lock.

  2. Tap Trusted face.

  3. Tap Improve face matching.

    Tap Improve face matching.
  4. Follow the on-screen instructions.

    Subtly change your appearance, or simply find different lighting conditions, and take another picture.
  5. Subtly change your appearance, or simply find different lighting conditions, and take another picture.

  6. You can repeat this process to help your device better recognize you and unlock faster.

How to Disable Trusted Face

If you ever want to disable Trusted face, navigate to Settings > Security > Smart Lock > Trusted face and tap Remove Trusted face.

How Reliable Is Trusted Face?

While the iPhone X boasts the powerful Apple Face ID feature, Android uses the less reliable Trusted face technology. Face recognition systems rely on different methods like thermal imaging, 3D face mapping, and skin surface texture analysis to identify distinctive facial features. Although face recognition systems occasionally fail to recognize someone, they very rarely misidentify a person.

That said, Trusted face can be tricked if someone holds a picture of you in front of your device's camera. Apple has taken measures to prevent such workarounds, but no face recognition technology can distinguish between identical twins. For these reasons, enabling Smart Lock can actually make your device less secure.

On Android devices, fingerprint and voice recognition are more secure options for locking and unlocking. Nonetheless, anyone who knows your password, PIN, or pattern can still access your device even if you have have these extra features enabled. Smart Lock is really more of a convenience than a security feature, but it can come in handy when you need to access your phone quickly. If you're worried about your privacy, consider downloading some security apps for Android.

More Android Face Identifier Apps

Face recognition technology has more uses than unlocking your device. For example, some law enforcement officials now use an app called FaceFirst to identify criminal suspects. Other facial recognition apps like iObit Applock and FaceLock improve upon the built-in capabilities of Trusted face.

Android Tablets and Phones With Face Recognition

Today, most smartphones have some face recognition capabilities. On top of Trusted face, some Android phones come with built-in systems that enhance the face recognition feature. Consult your device's documentation for additional information on setting up face lock. If you want to purchase a new device with reliable face recognition, your best bet is an iPhone or iPad since iOS is more secure than Android overall.