We were not surprised to learn at launch that the Galaxy S8 would support both facial recognition and an iris scanner, on top of a fingerprint scanner. Generally, the more options a consumer has, the broader the target market is, and more people are reached. Not only this, but it also adds a feather in Samsung’s cap, appealing to the security-conscious and making the device appear more secure. Who wouldn’t want the option to choose between three cool unlock methods?
Unfortunately, Samsung may have overdone it. Adding more security also adds more potential loopholes, and this time, that loophole can be found in the facial recognition scanner. As it turns out, the feature can be easily duped by a photo of the owner or with a person with a similar face. Although the software isn’t technically final, we wouldn’t imagine that it would change much for the final version. Take a look at the video demonstrating the issue on a preview S8:
Usually I wouldn’t worry much, but this really begs the question whether cellphones should still be using the facial recognition feature. Facial recognition was first announced in late 2011, which is almost six years ago. Incorporated into Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich, the feature was always slow and buggy, and could only be used in good lighting in my experience. I was rather disappointed by it when I first starting using it, before I quickly moved on to other unlock methods.
Unfortunately, not much has changed in six years. You still need good lighting for the feature to work, it never quite seems to accept the face quickly, and one usually ends up bypassing it and simply using other conventional lock screen methods. Instead of saving time and simplifying your life, it actually just makes it harder while wasting time. And it’s also much less secure, as we’ve seen. A gimmick, in other words. I get the impression that Samsung didn’t really think this one through.
But not all is lost. Samsung still has time to improve the feature in an update, increasing the efficiency and security of it. Personally, I wouldn’t bother with it and would go straight to the iris or fingerprint scanner. The fingerprint scanner is much faster and reliable, and works under most conditions.