At this point, it's no mystery that Google is digging deeper into facial recognition technology. Earlier today, XDA posted details found in a leaked Android Q build that contains code related to facial recognition, and now a beta update to the Google app adds its own details to the story. It's safe to say that Google will not only support per-device recognition, but will also support it across Assistant-enabled devices with the proper hardware and even allow detection for multiple users where appropriate.

Teardown

Disclaimer: Teardowns are based on evidence found inside of apks (Android's application package) and are necessarily speculative and usually based on incomplete information. It's possible that the guesses made here are wrong or inaccurate. Even when predictions are correct, there is always a chance that products could change or may be canceled. Much like rumors, nothing is certain until it's officially announced and released.

The features discussed below are probably not live yet, or may only be live for a small percentage of users. Unless stated otherwise, don't expect to see these features if you install the apk. All screenshots and images are real unless otherwise stated, and images are only altered to remove personal information.

Face Match for Assistant-enabled devices

In April of last year, the codename Avocado turned up in the Assistant settings screen with no meaningful details to explain its purpose, but it's now clear that this is Face Match. At least, I'm going to call it Face Match for now since the strings are all preceded by that name, but it could change in the coming months.

<string name="face_match_settings_page_title">Avocado</string>
<string name="face_match_settings_page_subtitle">Description of this page goes here...</string>

The page is still named Avocado, and there are placeholder strings for all of the descriptions, but there's enough text and names to make some assertions about what's coming.

There's no text from the Face Match setup process, but we can see the basic options to set up Face Match, retrain it, and add or remove devices. This strongly suggests that Google will be building a roaming profile of your face, much like it does for Voice Match. It seems safe to assume that the only devices that can be added will be those with suitable facial recognition cameras, which will likely include future smart displays, phones and tablets, and some smart home appliances.

<string name="face_match_enabled_devices_section_title">set up on:</string>
<string name="face_match_set_up_button_text">Set up Avocado</string>
<string name="face_match_add_device_button_text">Add a device</string><string name="face_match_remove_title">Remove</string>
<string name="face_match_remove_summary">Description for remove</string><string name="face_match_retrain_title">Retrain your Assistant</string>
<string name="face_match_retrain_summary">Description for retrain</string>

The final detail will be familiar to anybody that has set up a Google Home or Assistant-enabled smart display: Multi-user support. Ever since Google added multi-user to Home units, the process has relied on the owner of the system sending out invites to other people so they can create a voice profile. Along with the actions listed above, there is also one in the Face Match configuration screen for inviting other people.

<string name="face_match_invite_title">Invite others</string>
<string name="face_match_invite_summary">Description for invite</string>

Ultimately, this means that any person in our family will be able to walk up to a device with facial recognition and immediately get a personalized experience, even before speaking a word. It should be interesting to see how quickly new smart display devices pop up once Face Match goes live.

Download

The APK is signed by Google and upgrades your existing app. The cryptographic signature guarantees that the file is safe to install and was not tampered with in any way. Rather than wait for Google to push this download to your devices, which can take days, download and install it just like any other APK.

Google
Google
Developer: Google LLC
Price: Free