Feb 16th, 2012 @ 1:24 pm

FaceLock For Apps Adds Facial Recognition To Any Android Device

A few months back I wrote about FaceLock — an app that promised to bring facial recognition to pretty much any Android device with a camera. FaceLock actually turned out to be a disappointment since the app essentially didn’t work and development has all but ceased on it.

Facial Recognition is one of “Ooh and Ahh” features found in Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich. So, basically you need it even if you don’t know you need it. I even have a feeling that the cool factor of facial recognition is more important than it’s actual functionality.

A completely different app, FaceLock For Apps, has emerged by a completely different set of developers that promises to continue the dream of facial recognition on your Android 2.3 and below devices. As the name implies, FaceLock for App is meant to act as a replacement unlock method for your lock screen, but also for locking or preventing access to individual apps.


Does It Work?

Fundamentally, Yes. FaceLock For Apps supposedly learns your face by taking photos of it, so expect to spend a few minutes “training” the app to recognize your face. The app will require you to take a minimum of 7 photos of yourself using different levels of light.

However, it isn’t perfect. Several times the apps refused to recognize my face despite sitting in the exact same area where I took my original photos. This would imply that the app actually would protect your phone if someone else tried to lock it with their face, which I’d mark down as a good thing. Still, if you’re going claim facial recognition, it had better work well.

FaceLock for Apps needs a bit of training to learn your face.

Yes, FaceLock For Apps does work, but don’t expect the same tier as performance as the built in facial recognition in Android 4.0.


Would I Want To Use It?

Maybe. The problem with FaceLock for Apps is not in its performance but its concept. The apps is basically designed to help “lock” apps on your phone so that someone can’t willy-nilly use whatever app they’d like. But save the prying eyes of a girlfriend wanting to go through your text messages, how often will you really need facial recognition to protect your apps?

FaceLock For Apps lets you select the apps you want to protect with facial recognition.

While conceptually awesome, most users will find the app incredibly obstructive and annoying after a few minutes. I’d rather my girlfriend catch me cheating than have to wait the 5 or so seconds required for FaceLock to start up, scan my face and then finally open my text messaging app. There are simply very few situations that warrant this level of protection for your applications.

FaceLock For Apps requires you maintain a PIN number in case the facial recognition fails.

What makes more sense about FaceLock for Apps (and the reason that most folks will download it) is using it as an alternative lock screen — in the same fashion as Ice Cream Sandwich. However, this feature is apparently experimental — meaning that only a certain number of Android devices will support it. Luckily, it did work on my Infuse 4G but still felt cumbersome and slow; absolutely not what you’d want to be using to unlock your phone everyday.

Another minor complaint is FaceLock for Apps’ interface that is both spartan and uninspired. It looks like the developers have little to no concern about how the app actually looks, using the standard styling and interface elements of the Android SDK. I realize this is a nitpicky point, but when you’re on the fence about whether an app is basically good or basically bad, these are the tiny details that matter.


The Wrap Up

In general, FaceLock for Apps feels like a promising start to a good app — but not really a good app in and of itself. FaceLock for Apps is the type of app that you’ll end up loving or hating. Facial recognition is a cool, science fiction like feature so any app that even half way works will receive major points from me. Moreover, it’s clear that FaceLock for Apps, although not perfect, does actually work unlike the other face unlock apps in the Market.

Again, I found the locking of apps to be pretty useless and something most people will absolutely hate. FaceLock’s saving grace is that it can work as an unlock screen, even if only certain devices are supported.

FaceLock for Apps comes in both free and paid flavors. The limitation on the free version is that it doesn’t allow you to individually select the apps you want to lock or unlock, which will drive you nuts in a matter of seconds.

Free: FaceLock For Apps 

Paid: FaceLock For Apps (Around $1.99)



Android Static Rating
Out Of 5

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