Samsung may let you use Bixby Voice to unlock the Galaxy S21

Samsung may let you use Bixby Voice to unlock the Galaxy S21

Unlocking a smartphone has become like second nature to most smartphone owners, and with biometrics, all you need to do is put your finger on a sensor or look at your screen. With the upcoming Galaxy S21, Samsung is apparently adding another biometric option, Bixby Voice, to the list.

According to SamMobile, Bixby Voice will be used as a new biometric method when unlocking the Galaxy S21. The feature will reportedly be part of One UI 3.1 based on Android 11, which is expected to launch with Samsung’s new device. SamMobile claims the updated software will be exclusive to the Galaxy S21 before rolling out to more Galaxy devices. That’s unsurprising considering Samsung typically debuts new versions of its Android-based One UI software on its latest flagship smartphones — One UI 2.1 debuted on the Galaxy S20, while One UI 2.5 debuted on the Galaxy Note 20, for instance.

SamMobile points out that Bixby did once offer the ability to unlock your device with voice wake-up features, but those features are no longer found in Bixby. “But we’re told One UI 3.1 will let you select Bixby voice unlock from the phone’s lock screen security settings, though the exact details of how it will work are unclear at this time,” SamMobile said.

The question remains whether Bixby Voice can be a viable biometric alternative to a fingerprint sensor or even face unlock. Voice assistants have become adept at recognizing a user’s voice, but there’s no telling if Bixby Voice can distinguish between a recording and real life. Biometrics in today’s market are more than capable, and I’m not sure people are necessarily yearning for yet another option. But there are those rare instances when fingerprints and face unlock aren’t convenient, leaving a voice unlock feature to fill the gap. While biometric voice authentication — like software-based facial recognition services — may be offered for unlocking the phone or even locking apps, Samsung will likely categorize it as a “weak” authenticator type so it can’t be used for confirming payments.

It shouldn’t be too much longer before we find out what Samsung has planned. The company is rumored to be prepping for an Unpacked event in early January, where we’re expecting to learn more about the Galaxy S21 (and any new features in One UI 3.1). Unfortunately, the same event may not include a sequel to the Galaxy Z Flip, so all attention will be on the Galaxy S21.

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Brandon Russell
Brandon Russell

Brandon's love of technology can be traced back to his childhood, when he would obsessively watch Back to the Future. Since then he's followed the industry and its many innovations, from handheld consoles to powerful smartphones. He's still waiting on a hoverboard.