Android Q Beta 4 Arrives With References To Native Face Unlocking Support

Android Q Developer Preview
Google is getting oh-so-close to release the major version of Android, still just called Android Q, to the public. How close are we talking about? Google has begun pushing out the Beta 4 release of Android Q, which contains finalized APIs and the official SDK, for a last round of testing, before launching the real deal "later in the summer."

There is not a set release date yet, but we anticipate it will come out in August, rather than at the tail end of summer in September. Following the last round of beta testing, Google will move on to issuing release candidates.

"With the developer APIs finalized and release candidate builds coming soon, it’s critical for all Android developers to test their current apps for compatibility with Android Q. We recommend getting started as soon as possible," Google says.

Google is urging developers to test their apps with Android Q's privacy features, such as the new location permissions, restrictions on background activity starts, changes to data and identifies, and so forth. As it pertains to privacy, Android Q supports both standard and passive authentication methods, among them the ability to unlock a phone with a user's face.

Interestingly, face unlocking is not yet live in Android Q, but it is surely coming. The folks at 9To5Google spotted a reference to face authentication as a hidden setting, along with strings of code in the Settings app. The pertinent section reads:
Data recorded by face unlock will be permanently and securely deleted. After removal, you will need your PIN, pattern, or password to unlock your phone, sign in to apps, and confirm payments.

Delete face data?
Barring a last minute surprise, it appears as though face unlocking will be a native security feature in Android Q. That's not surprising, as Google has focused on three themes in the development of Android Q: innovation, security and privacy, and digital wellbeing.

"We want to help you take advantage of the latest new technology— 5G, foldables, edge-to-edge screens, on-device machine learning, and more— while making sure users' security, privacy, and wellbeing are always a top priority," Google said.

Anyone who owns a Pixel phone and is enrolled in the beta program can expect an over-the-air update to the latest beta. In addition, the Android Q Beta 4 release is available on a range of other handsets, including the ASUS ZenFone 5Z, Essential Phone, Huawei Mate 20 Pro, LG G8, Nokia 8.1, OnePlus 6T, Oppo Reno, realme 3 Pro, Sony Xperia XZ3, Tecno Spark 3 Pro, Vivo X27, Vivo Nex S, Vivo Nex A, Xiaomi Mi 9, and Xiaomi Mi Mix 3 5G.