Future Android version may natively support facial recognition hardware
According to a recent commit on the AOSP Gerrit, native support for facial recognition hardware may be coming in a future version of Android. This comes off of the back of recent commits potentially enabling native support for iris scanning hardware. We’ve already seen iris scanning implemented by the likes of Samsung originating with the infamous Galaxy Note 7. This would increase the likelihood of future devices launching with faster facial recognition by using specialized hardware. Currently, companies are using software solutions to achieve the same goal. The OnePlus 5T is a prime example of this, where software was used to create a shockingly fast facial recognition algorithm that surpasses the one built into Android via Smart Unlock.
This doesn’t necessarily mean we will actually see the advent of specialized hardware to handle facial recognition. It just means there will now be an interface to handle it natively so that device OEMs may include such hardware if they wish. This could lead to even more specialization of processing, like the Pixel Visual Core which is a unique piece of hardware for processing images on the Pixel 2. A similar approach may be taken for facial recognition hardware, meaning face unlock might get even faster in the near future, not to mention with a potential to also be more efficient.
It should be noted this is only the initial version of the face authentication manager interface. That means it’s likely still in an alpha state, that in theory could never be built upon. It’s unlikely it will be left in such a state though, given that manufacturer interest in dedicated hardware for biometrics is only growing. There’s a huge amount of potential for custom biometric hardware in the future, and laying the groundwork for facial recognition hardware support may be what’s needed to expand even further.