Face unlock on the Pixel 4 could inspire other Android phones.
With the blink of an eye, Google’s Pixel 4 accomplishes something that no other significant Android phone-maker has. It finally caught up to iPhone’s Face ID — a biometric unlocking feature that Apple popularized two years ago — to unlock the phone and buy things with a scan of your face. Now that a secure version exists in Android phones, face unlock will be the killer feature every Android user will want.Â
The face unlock feature on Android phones has existed for years, but mostly as a convenience that’s been flimsy enough to fool with photos. Face ID’s more rigorous process meant it was secure enough for transactions.Â
Some Huawei phones, like the Huawei Mate 30 Pro, use the same technology as Apple to unlock the phone, but they don’t support mobile payments. This year,Â Samsung killed its iris scanning after three years. That left Apple as the only real game in town.
Should you upgrade to the Pixel 4?
With consumers more aware of the value of their privacy, being able to offer secure face unlock is potentially even more convenient than scanning your fingerprint or entering a pin code. Closing the gap with Face ID also gives Google an edge overÂ Samsung, LG, Huawei and all the rest at a time when Google can sell its phones across all major US carriers, providing an opportunity to make the Pixel, which hasn’t historically sold well, more of a household name.
But more importantly, the Pixel 4’s adoption of this secure version of face unlock could have ripple effects throughout the rest of the Android world. If Google folds the blueprint for this secure version of face unlock into the Android OS, it will all but guarantee that every midrange and premium phone will use the feature, since roughly 90% of all smartphones run on the platform.Â
Why face unlock matters
Face scanning, along with fingerprint scanning, is one of the few biometrically secure methods of verifying your identity. On a phone, it’s meant to be a fast, convenient and mostly hands-free alternative to fingerprint readers. Using face unlock instead of a fingerprint reader can free up space on the screen and keep you from fumbling on the back or side of the phone to unlock it.
Proponents of face unlock also claim that it’s more secure than fingerprint readers and harder to fool with images and synthetic appendages, like dummy fingers. It has the power to authenticate password autofill in addition to mobile payments.
The technology works by scanning your features and creating a stored image that the phone then compares to your face whenever you attempt to unlock your device. Versions that are less secure create optical images with the camera, which are easy enough to fool with photos, masks or other spoofs.Â
This is how Google visualizes the Pixel 4’s Soli radar sensor to detect your presence and motion.
Apple, and now Google, uses an infrared sensor to project tens of thousands of dots onto your face. This creates a 3D depth map with far more data on the length, shape, span and width of your unique features.
While the iPhone requires you to swipe up from the bottom of the screen to finish unlocking the phone (after it’s verified your identity), the Pixel 4 uses Motion Sense, a collection of motion-sensing features that are driven by radar to recognize when you’re reaching for your device. That alone will trigger the Pixel 4 to unlock the screen.Â
Using gestures and a glance to unlock the phone should be faster than swiping it — at least, according to Google. This is something we’ll test soon.
You can’t see the radar chip inside, but it’s to the right of the speaker grille.
Why only now?
It isn’t clear why the Android competition has lagged so far behind when it comes to truly secure face unlock. Qualcomm bundled support for a 50,000-dot projector into its Snapdragon 845 chipset a year after the iPhone X launched in 2017, but rivals were slow to take up the technology.
Perhaps some of these device-makers lacked the technology or software teams to get the feature secure enough, or perhaps they wanted to put their own spin on the secure face unlock realm, as Google has now done.
Either way, Google’s opportunity to innovate on hardware by pairing Motion Sense gestures to the face unlock mechanism isn’t just a long-overdue way for the brand to flex its technical muscle. And it isn’t just a way for Pixel phones to race ahead. Because of Google’s considerable resources and reach, its blueprint for face unlock on Android phones has the potential to push biometrics even further into the future.
The Pixel 4 is losing a lifelong fan
Originally published earlier today.
7 things data privacy experts wish you knew about app security – CNET
Keep your data safe from prying phone apps. James Martin/CNET Can you really trust the apps on your phone? When it comes to data privacy, smartphone apps are notoriously tough to trust. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell at face value if an app is tracking you, even when you say stop, and no protection is…
Keep your data safe from prying phone apps.
Can you really trust the apps on your phone? When it comes to data privacy, smartphone apps are notoriously tough to trust. Unfortunately, there’s no way to tell at face value if an app is tracking you, even when you say stop, and no protection is foolproof in today’s world of ever-evolving technology. An app that behaves well today could turn into a bad actor tomorrow if the company behind the app is sold, changes its direction or winds up compromised because of a flaw. There are ways to find and delete the data Google has saved about you, along with some new privacy settings in Android 12 and iOS 14 to stop apps from tracking you. And Apple also launched a “privacy nutrition label” in iOS 14, which allows you to see what kind of data an app collects before you download it.Read more: Apple boosts your privacy in 4 new ways on iOS 15But there’s more you can do to protect your data privacy and improve your smartphone security. We reached out to data privacy experts for their top tips to protect your personal data when using apps. Here are their seven suggestions.1. Use a password manager
The strongest passwords are random strings of characters. A series of letters, numbers and symbols in no particular order is less likely to be found in the dictionary and harder for a computer to crack with brute force. The downside is that these complex passwords are much harder to remember.This is where a password manager app comes in handy. Password managers keep all your passwords in one encrypted and password-protected app. They also generate and remember strong passwords. While apps like Google Chrome and Samsung’s proprietary phone app will offer to save passwords for you, security experts always go to the password manager.It’s also best to avoid using the same password for multiple accounts. If one account is compromised in a data breach, all the accounts are compromised. With a password manager, each one of your accounts can have a different, complex and hard-to-crack password. Some will even generate passwords for you.We recommend one called Bitwarden, but there are many other password managers to choose from.
2. Use a VPN on public Wi-FiIf you’re going to get on a public Wi-Fi network while on your phone instead of using your mobile data, experts suggest using a VPN. A virtual private network can keep your data from being snooped on by other people lurking on the same public network. They can also mask your data transmissions, avoid filtering and censorship on the internet and allow you to access a wider variety of content around the world. For our purposes, it can shield you from having to get on a free public network that others can use to gain access to your phone. When looking for a provider, it’s important to research the company to find out if it’s well-known and trustworthy. The Apple App Store and the Google Play Store have dozens of VPN apps that are free, but some have questionable practices, so take care.Regardless of how frequently you plan to use a VPN, it’s important to read through the service agreement so you know what data might be collected and where it will be stored. See CNET’s guide to the best VPNs.
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3. Be mindful of app permissionsOne tip that almost all of the experts mentioned was double checking which permissions the app asks for. You should also ask yourself whether it makes sense for an app to ask for certain permissions. An app asking for access to data that isn’t relevant to its function is a major warning sign.”[If] you’re downloading a simple app for a pocket calculator for instance and the app is requesting access to your contact list and location,” said Stephen Hart, CEO of Cardswitcher. “Why would a calculator need to see your contact list and location? Requests like that should ring some alarm bells.”
Graphic by Pixabay/Illustration by CNET
In addition to paying attention to permissions that you grant to an app, it’s also important to monitor how your phone behaves after you download it. Shlomie Liberow, a technical program manager and security guru at HackerOne, said that drastic changes in your device’s battery life are another red flag, since malicious apps can constantly run in the background. “If after installing an app, you notice your battery life decreasing faster than usual, that may be a tell-tale sign that the app is up to no good and is likely operating in the background,” Liberow said. Here’s how you can keep your app permissions in check.4. Research the app or companyWhile you can’t tell at face value if an app has sinister motives, a quick Google search can supply more information. The experts suggested searching the name of the app and the phrase “data scandal” or “scam.” Hart said the results should tell you if the company has experienced any recent privacy or data leaks.”This search should also tell you if data breaches are a common occurrence at that company and, if they have experienced any, how they have responded to them,” Hart said. “If the company has been affected several times and done nothing to address the problem, steer clear of the app — it suggests that they aren’t taking the issue seriously.” Joe Baker, an IT Systems Administrator at Anderson Technologies, said it’s wise to avoid an app if it’s the only one a developer has produced or if the developer was responsible for any other shady apps.5. Limit social media exposureFacebook’s Cambridge Analytica data scandal put the popular social network in hot water. But even people who’ve freed themselves from Facebook’s siren call after the fallout (or never created a profile in the first place) might still be at risk for privacy invasion. If you appear on a friend or family member’s account, you’re still visible online. After those accounts are observed, companies can construct a “shadow profile” that details a person’s likes, dislikes, political leanings, religious beliefs and more.
Loads of Android apps are skirting privacy controls
It’s wise to limit the amount of information you share on social media, regardless of what the site asks for on your profile. The more information you share, the more data that’s available to create advertisements for you. Only fill out the absolute minimum amount of information necessary. The more information is at risk in the event of a data breach.”Smartphone apps are generally more ‘thorough’ when it comes to targeted advertising. There’s even concern among some about those programs accessing your phone’s microphone (presumably for more targeted advertising),” Bobby Kittleberger, head of Legal Software Help, told CNET. 6. Keep software up to dateMaking time to update your smartphone’s operating system is critical to keeping your data safe, according to Walsh. The updates let you stay a step ahead of hackers and the latest exploits they’re spreading across the internet. Hart suggested adjusting your phone’s settings so it’ll update automatically.”Think of software updates like vaccinations for your smartphone,” Hart said. “The methods that criminals use to hack into your phone and steal your data are constantly evolving, so the ways that we protect our smartphones need to evolve too.”While you can side-load apps, it’s more secure to only install them from the Google Play Store or App Store.
Mi 11 Lite With 90Hz AMOLED Display, Snapdragon 732G SoC Launched in India: Price, Specifications
Mi 11 Lite was launched in India on Tuesday as the newest model in Xiaomi’s Mi series. The new smartphone, which debuted globally in late March, comes as a more affordable variant of the Mi 11, which was launched as a flagship Mi-series phone in December. Xiaomi did not bring the Mi 11 to the…
Mi 11 Lite was launched in India on Tuesday as the newest model in Xiaomi’s Mi series. The new smartphone, which debuted globally in late March, comes as a more affordable variant of the Mi 11, which was launched as a flagship Mi-series phone in December. Xiaomi did not bring the Mi 11 to the Indian market and instead chose to bring the Mi 11X series in April. The Mi 11 Lite in India comes in a 4G version initially, but Xiaomi India chief Manu Kumar Jain stated during the virtual launch event that the company has plans to bring the 5G model of the Mi 11 Lite to the country as well if it sees demand from customers.Mi 11 Lite price in India, availability detailsMi 11 Lite price in India has been set at Rs. 21,999 for the 6GB RAM + 128GB storage variant. The smartphone also comes in an 8GB RAM + 128GB storage configuration that is priced at Rs. 23,999. Both Mi 11 Lite variants come in three different colour options, namely Jazz Blue, Tuscany Coral, and Vinyl Black. The phone will go on pre-orders from June 25, 12pm (noon) through Flipkart, Mi.com, Mi Home stores, and other retail channels, with its first sale scheduled for June 28.Customers pre-ordering the Mi 11 Lite will get a Rs. 1,500 discount. There is also an additional discount of up to Rs. 1,500 for customers purchasing the phone using an HDFC Bank card.The Mi 11 Lite debuted globally at an initial price of EUR 299 (Rs. 26,400) for the base 6GB RAM + 64GB storage model. The Mi 11 Lite 5G, on the other hand, was launched in China with a starting price of CNY 2,299 (roughly Rs. 26,300) for the 8GB RAM + 128GB storage variant.Alongside the Mi 11 Lite, Xiaomi launched the Mi Watch Revolve Active in India. The smartwatch comes at an effective price of Rs. 8,999.Mi Watch Revolve Active First Impressions: Time to Get Active?Mi 11 Lite specificationsThe USP of the Mi 11 Lite is its thin design that is touted to be the world’s thinnest at 6.8mm and lightest of all the smartphones launched in 2021 so far — at 157 grams of weight. Xiaomi tweaked the manufacturing process for the Mi 11 Lite to bring its thin and light appeal to the consumers. The changes include a “flat flexible OLED” and a redesigned circuit board that is 35 percent smaller in size over a traditional smartphone printed circuit board (PCBA). There are also smaller capacitors that are touted to be similar to those available on the iPhone.Xiaomi has additionally introduced a chip-on-board process and a single fold design for the battery of the Mi 11 Lite to make it thin and light. Further, there is a magnesium alloy material for the mid-frame to further reduce the weight by up to 10 grams.In terms of specifications, the dual-SIM (Nano) Mi 11 Lite runs on MIUI 12 based on Android 11 and features a 6.55-inch full-HD+ (1,080×2,400 pixels) AMOLED 10-bit display with 20:9 aspect ratio and 60Hz as well as 90Hz refresh rate options. The display also comes with 240Hz of touch sampling rate and has a Corning Gorilla Glass 5 protection on top. Under the hood, the Mi 11 Lite has an octa-core Qualcomm Snapdragon 732G SoC, along with Adreno 618 GPU and up to 8GB of LPDDR4X RAM.The Mi 11 Lite has a triple rear camera setup that houses a 64-megapixel primary sensor, with an f/1.79 lens. The rear camera setup also includes an 8-megapixel sensor with an f/2.2 ultra-wide lens that has a field-of-view (FoV) of 119 degrees, along with a 5-megapixel sensor with an f/2.4 telephoto lens. There is also an LED flash for supporting low-light shots. Further, the camera setup supports up to 4K video recording at 30fps frame rate.For selfies and video chats, the Mi 11 Lite flaunts a 16-megapixel selfie camera sensor at the front, with an f/2.45 lens. The selfie camera supports features including an AI Beautify, Night mode, and Time burst.The Mi 11 Lite has 128GB of UFS 2.2 storage as standard that is expandable via microSD card (up to 512GB). Connectivity options include 4G LTE, Wi-Fi 802.11ac, Infrared (IR), Bluetooth, GPS/ A-GPS, and a USB Type-C port. Sensors on board include an accelerometer, ambient light, gyroscope, magnetometer, and a proximity sensor. There are also dual speakers with Hi-Res Audio support. Further, the smartphone has an IP53-certified build for minor dust and water resistance.Xiaomi has provided a 4,250mAh battery on the Mi 11 Lite that is claimed to have an “endurance rating” of over 100 hours. The battery also supports 33W fast charging, with the supported charger available in the box. Besides, the Mi 11 Lite measures 160.53×75.73×6.81mm and weighs 157 grams.
Samsung to Hold MWC 2021 Event on June 28, New Devices Teased
Samsung is hosting a virtual event at this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) on June 28. Although the exact details of what the South Korean giant would unveil at the forthcoming event are yet to be revealed, it has teased the announcement of its new devices. These could be Samsung’s new smartwatch, foldable phone, and…
Samsung is hosting a virtual event at this year’s Mobile World Congress (MWC) on June 28. Although the exact details of what the South Korean giant would unveil at the forthcoming event are yet to be revealed, it has teased the announcement of its new devices. These could be Samsung’s new smartwatch, foldable phone, and tablet, as per a teaser released by the company on the Web. Samsung normally holds its dedicated ‘Galaxy Unpacked’ events to unveil its flagship devices. Nevertheless, we can expect the company to give us a glimpse of what we could see at its future ‘Unpacked’ events this year.Called the Samsung Galaxy MWC Virtual Event, the online conference will take place at 07:15pm CET (10:45pm IST) on June 28. It will be livestreamed through Samsung’s official YouTube channel and the Samsung Newsroom site.Samsung on Monday released the teaser on the Samsung Newsroom site to suggest what it could announce at the event. The teaser image carries silhouettes of a smartwatch, a foldable phone, and a tablet. It also appears to showcase the rear camera module of the Galaxy S21 Ultra as well as a logo of Samsung’s Knox security solution.In addition to the teaser, Samsung suggested its new launches by saying that it would unveil “a vision for the future of smartwatches” at the event that “will provide new experiences for users and new opportunities for developers.” The company further noted that it “plans to present the latest technologies and innovation efforts” that could be around the “growing importance of smart device security”.The company’s teaser and the description suggest we can expect some interesting developments to emerge from the virtual event. The announcements could include a new Wear OS experience that may have a mix of what Google initially announced at its I/O conference last month and Samsung’s proprietary One UI.If we look at the rumour mill, Samsung is currently busy working on a number of hardware offerings. These include the Samsung Galaxy Z Fold 3 and Galaxy Z Flip 3 foldable phones, as well as the Galaxy Tab S8 family of tablets and Galaxy Watch 4 smartwatches. The new products are expected to debut at a Galaxy Unpacked event in August. However, Samsung may give us some information about them at its MWC 2021 conference next week. For the latest tech news and reviews, follow Gadgets 360 on Twitter, Facebook, and Google News. For the latest videos on gadgets and tech, subscribe to our YouTube channel.
Jagmeet Singh writes about consumer technology for Gadgets 360, out of New Delhi. Jagmeet is a senior reporter for Gadgets 360, and has frequently written about apps, computer security, Internet services, and telecom developments. Jagmeet is available on Twitter at @JagmeetS13 or Email at [email protected] Please send in your leads and tips.
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