New code found in Samsung’s Android Pie update suggests that the company’s upcoming Galaxy S10 may include support for 3D facial recognition. While current Galaxy models already boast facial recognition, Samsung’s offering is far less secure than what Apple uses with Face ID, for example. The reason, quite simply, is that Samsung’s implementation relies upon a 2D map of a user’s face and, as a result, the devices can easily be fooled with photos and video.
As to the newly discovered code, XDA Developers found data strings that make reference to Time of Flight cameras, technology which is commonly used with 3D mapping and can help differentiate between a 2D photo and an actual 3D face.
“Now, as was previously rumored, there’s evidence that at least one upcoming Samsung Galaxy smartphone will use a ToF sensor,” the report notes. “Hidden within the code for Samsung’s system application responsible for handling facial biometric authentication are new fields and methods explicitly mentioning a ToF camera.”
The news shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given that rumors regarding Samsung’s plan to significantly boost the reliability and security of its face recognition feature have been making the rounds for months now. Assuming the rumors pan out, it will be interesting to see how close Samsung’s implementation comes to keeping up with Face ID on Apple’s current iPhone XR and XS.
What remains unclear, though, is if the improved facial recognition feature will be implemented on all Galaxy S10 models. As you may recall, it’s widely believed that Samsung at Mobile World Congress is planning to introduce four S10 models, including a flagship device with 5G support. While it’s entirely possible that Samsung may save its improved facial recognition feature for the higher-end S10 device, it would be nice to see it available even on the entry-level model.