WhatsApp prepares to add face unlock support for Android
WhatsApp is one of the primary means of communication for hundreds of millions of users around the globe. It’s free and painless to use, even if alternatives like Telegram are already beating it in terms of features. It’s not every day the Facebook-owned service gets a new feature, but when it does get one, it’s an exciting time for users. We already know that several new WhatsApp features are on the horizon, and we’re now learning of one more feature in the works if a report from WABetaInfo rings true.
Somewhere down the line, WhatsApp added support for fingerprint unlock, allowing Android users to easily lock the app, preventing people from spying on your personal conversations. For those Android devices that support face unlock, though, you couldn’t really use this feature. Some Android devices like the Google Pixel 4 have specialized sensors for accurate 3D facial recognition, so WhatsApp is now preparing to add support for more forms of biometric authentication. Once the feature rolls out, the “fingerprint lock” settings will be renamed to the more general “biometric lock”.
Image credits: WABetaInfo
We’re guessing that the new settings will be based on Android’s BiometricPrompt API, which allows apps to use face scanners as well as fingerprint sensors for biometric authentication. Right now, though, there’s no way to tell as the feature is not yet available, not even in the latest beta release. We are, however, expecting it to become available in a future update very soon.
The adoption of face unlock on Android devices has sort of stagnated, though we just saw a recent high-profile device launch with it. The first major Android device to support 3D face unlock was the Pixel 4 series, and Google has slowly been pushing app developers to switch from the older FingerprintManager API to the newer BiometricPrompt API. There’s not much of an incentive anymore to support face unlock, though, as even Google’s very own Pixel 5 went back to the good old-fashioned fingerprint scanner mounted on the back. The rise of mask-wearing due to COVID-19 has made face unlock less popular, which means the shift back to fingerprint scanners couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. Still, it’s nice to see apps like WhatsApp prepare to support face unlock for those few Android devices that can actually take advantage of it.