When the Pixel 6 series was first released in October 2021, the thinking at the time was that the cool Magic Eraser feature, which “erases” unwanted people and things from photographs, would not be made available to older Pixel models because it required the use of the AI-focused Google Tensor chipset. At the time, only the Pixel 6 and Pixel 6 Pro were powered by the Tensor silicon.
And when the Pixel 7 series was released last October, the new models were powered by the Google Tensor 2 SoC. The “advanced machine learning models” available with the Tensor 2 chipset along with the 10.8MP front-facing camera allow the phones to offer the 2D Face Unlock facial recognition system. Because the system creates only 2D depth maps of the user’s face, the phone can be unlocked by holding up a photo of the device owner to the camera.
Will the upcoming Quarterly Feature Drop result in wider distribution of exclusive Pixel 7 features?
As a result, Google
doesn’t allow Pixel 7’s Face Unlock to authenticate a transaction paid for by Google Pay. Nor will Google allow the Pixel 7 facial recognition system to verify the user’s identity when trying to open an app. Google wants a facial recognition system to be tricked no more than 7% of the time in order to be considered secure. So if the system on the Pixel 7 line can be tricked into unlocking the phone more than 7 times out of 100 attempts, the system would not be considered secure.
Magic Eraser is coming to all Pixel models!
As it turns out, spoofing will allow someone other than a Pixel 7’s actual owner to unlock the phone more than 20 times out of 100 attempts. The system also has issues in low light. Still, Face Unlock comes in handy since it allows Pixel 7 series users to unlock their phones without having to deal with a still janky under-display fingerprint scanner.
Last week, Google stunned the Pixel community by announcing that the Magic Eraser will now be available on all Pixel models
even though Pixel 5a and older models do not use the Tensor chipset. Even more remarkable, the feature can also be used on other non-Pixel Android phones and iOS-powered handsets as long as they use the Google Photos app and are subscribed to the Google One cloud storage service. Older Pixel models just need to have the Google Photos app installed.
So we wonder whether all of those rumors about the Pixel 6 Pro getting Face Unlock, now nearly a year old, might eventually come true. At this stage of the game, it wouldn’t seem likely but then again, no one would have predicted that the Magic Eraser would become a feature on all Pixel phones.
Clear Calling will reportedly be available for the Pixel 6 series
The most likely rumor involving the Pixel 6 line and Face Unlock was based on the use of the Sony IMX 663 imaging sensor
for the Pixel 6 Pro’s front-facing camera. The sensor supports dual-pixel auto-focus which means that in Portrait mode, the sensor creates a depth map of the user’s face using just one lens. This could allow Google to create Face Unlock for the Pixel 6 Pro and even offer a secure version of the feature although it still wouldn’t work in low-light environments.
Last year, we were told by Google that the Clear Calling feature that reduces loud background noise on Pixel 7 series phone calls will eventually be made available to Pixel 6 series users
. The feature uses the Tensor chipset and this feature is more likely to surface on the Pixel 6 line than Face Unlock.
Another Pixel 7 feature that Google told us last year would be coming to the Pixel 6 line is Guided Frame. This is an AI-powered feature that helps those with poor eyesight shoot a selfie by using a virtual coach that guides the user on how to position his phone in order to take a viable selfie. Besides helping with the positioning of the phone, the coach also will countdown a timer that snaps the shutter at zero.
In the past, Google has introduced new features for the latest Pixel models and then added these features to older Pixel devices. These features are usually disseminated via the Quarterly Pixel Feature Drop and the next one should arrive on March 6th. We already know that the Magic Eraser is rolling out to all Pixels soon and in a few days we will know whether the March update will broaden the distribution of some features that are now exclusive to the Pixel 7 line.