The Samsung Galaxy Nexus isn’t even out in the United States yet, but it’s already been compromised. At a demo station in Hong Kong, a blogger has used a picture of himself to unlock Google’s first Android 4.0 (Ice Cream Sandwich) phone. Face Unlock is one of the key features Google and Samsung packed into Android 4.0 and the Galaxy Nexus. The feature allows a phone to scan your face and then only unlock your phone if it recognizes you using the front-facing camera.
During the phone’s unveiling, even Google had trouble getting the feature to work. After learning about it, we wondered if someone could hold up a printed picture of you and unlock your phone, but it looks like the actual process may be much easier than that. In the video below, blogger Soya Cincau takes a picture of his own face on a Samsung Galaxy Note (a huge 5.3-inch phone), and then uses that picture to unlock the Galaxy Nexus. Sadly, it works extremely quickly. This makes us wonder, will a Facebook profile picture or album picture work as well? Can a smaller phone be used?
This doesn’t mean the feature is entirely useless as well. Currently, most people don’t actually lock their smartphone at all. Requiring a robber to know your name and have a high resolution picture of you is a lot better than simply giving your phone out. However, sophisticated thieves won’t have a problem getting around this. Even if Face Unlock works and blocks an intruder from accessing your phone, a few failed attempts will land the baddie at the default drawing unlock screen, which isn’t too hard to unlock either.
If you really want to keep your phone safe, it looks like you had better not lose it.