How to enable Face Unlock on Android

If you have an Android phone or tablet that’s been updated to the latest version 4 of the operating system – also known as Ice Cream Sandwich – you may find a fun new feature in the settings.

Face Unlock for Android 4.0

Face Unlock is one of the coolest features of Android's Ice Cream Sandwich.

Called ‘Face Unlock’, it’s a way of securing your device using – as the name suggests – a photo of your own face.

Convenient and quick, it means that if your phone recognises you using its built-in webcam, you’ll have instant access to all its features, without the need to enter a passcode.

Face Unlock is not quite as secure as using a passcode or unlock pattern, as the image recognition can be fooled by someone who looks similar to you or – in some circumstances – a good photograph. But it is better than leaving it lying around with no security at all, and a lot faster than other unlock methods.

Just remember that you won’t be able to lend your phone or tablet to family members – although that may be a good thing, if they steal it a lot.

Here’s how to get started:

1. To enable Face Unlock, go to Settings>Security>Screen lock and draw the pattern or enter the code you’re currently using.

2. Now, you can choose ‘Face Unlock’ from the list shown – if it’s not listed, it’s not an option on your phone.

3. Your device will now try to take a picture of your face. It can be quite tricky to get your face in the outline shown – the best results are usually if you sit facing a window or light source, holding the tablet or phone in front of you. Remember it’s a mirror image – you’ll need to move the tablet to left to move your picture to the right, and down for up etc. Once the device sees you, it’ll move onto the next page.

4. Here, you can set a pattern or a lock code to use if the tablet doesn’t recognise you, so you can’t be locked out completely, and you can lend your device to someone else without changing your face unlock settings. We suggest a memorable pattern as this can be harder to guess than a code.

5. With Face Unlock set up, try it out by turning your tablet or phone to standby and waking it up again. It helps to hold the camera closer to your face than would if just reading the screen, and if you’re having problems getting it to work, you may need to set it up again with a clearer image.

6. You should see an option for ‘Improve Face Matching’ in the security settings – run through this a few times with different facial expressions and Android will remember them all.

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