Google Mobile App and Android Q Face Match Capabilities Likely to Arrive in Google Assistant

Android Police reported Friday that the Android Q operating system and a new Google App update both include code to enable “Face Match” for user identification by facial characteristics which many consumers are familiar with from the Apple X and XS iPhone models. In addition, the reporting suggests this feature will not be limited to authentication for smartphone access. Its inclusion in the Google app update suggests it will extend to Google Assistant enabled devices such as smart displays. Cody Toombs of Android Police writes:

It’s safe to say that Google will not only support per-device recognition, but will also support it across Assistant-enabled devices with the proper hardware and even allow detection for multiple users where appropriate.

The presence of the code enabling “Face Match” does not guarantee it will be enabled in any devices this year. However, code for onboarding features and inviting other users is similar to Google Assistant’s Voice Match feature suggests it is a feature on the near-term product roadmap.

Can You Say Multi-Factor Authentication

Face Match would not be much use to Google Assistant on any of the Google Home product line devices since they do not have an onboard camera. This includes Google Home Hub which is the rare voice-interactive smart display without a camera. However, smart displays from Google partners such as Lenovo, JBL, and LG do have a camera and in theory, could take advantage of this feature. Android smartphones are another obvious implementation.

If you have Voice Match and are interacting by voice, then the facial ID does not offer much in the way of enhanced personalization. Your voice is your key to unlocking features based on your profile. However, Face Match could be a useful feature for multi-factor authorization to confirm purchases or bank transactions. Today, a combination Voice Match plus a PIN could offer two-factor authentication. However, what if you are using Google Assistant through the text interface in a public place and don’t want to say your PIN or transaction details out loud which would be required for Voice Match to work? Face Match could substitute for Voice Match in these situations. Similarly, a combination of Voice Match and Face Match could eliminate the need for a PIN for multi-factor authentication.

We will see if Google plans to highlight Face Match at Mobile World Congress or its I/O developer conference this spring. However, Face Match’s appearance supports forecasts that security will become an increasing focus for voice assistants in 2019. It also may have one additional benefit. If Voice Match doesn’t work on your smart display because you have a cold, Face Match could be the key to accessing your calendar.


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