I'd like to start off this post with a couple disclaimers. First, I'm not a lush. A Samsung Galaxy Nexus was sent to Florida where I was vacationing over the holidays, so I could spend some time using it before writing a review. There were a few family gatherings, and wine was served. Not only does my family have excellent taste in wine, but I wasn't driving, so I enjoyed myself and imbibed.
The second disclaimer is that this isn't an official review of the Galaxy Nexus. Jason Hiner wrote a first impressions post, and Bill Detwiler cracked it open. There will also be plenty of review coverage as more of our tech bloggers get their hands on this device. However, this particular post is primarily about the Galaxy Nexus facial recognition, my interesting experience with the software, and the implications it could have on a larger scale.
So, the evening started with me showing off the phone's capabilities. As Jason mentioned in his post, Android 4.0 is really amazing, the display is crisp and beautiful, and Verizon's LTE 4G speeds are lightening fast. I had set the phone's security to Face Unlock, and so I passed the device around, letting everyone try to unlock it by looking at the forward-facing camera.
Now, I was pleasantly surprised that the phone was able to decipher me from my family members who truly do have similar facial features. My sister, for example, should have gotten in -- but instead, she received the message, "Sorry, don't recognize you." I took the phone from her, looked into the camera, and it unlocked right away. We did this several times, where a family member would receive the "Sorry" message, and then I'd look at it and immediately get in. Fun and quite amazing, right?
Well, my real amazement came about an hour or so later, after two glasses of wine (when you don't drink often, it doesn't take much). I was going to take some photos and video clips, but when I looked at the camera, it wouldn't let me in! I tried again. "Sorry, don't recognize you." My son told me to stop smiling, because I guess alcohol gives me an incredibly cheesy grin, but me trying not to smile didn't look like me either! Or perhaps my eyes were glossed over and wonky. Whatever the reason, the Samsung Galaxy Nexus wasn't budging.
The implications here are pretty great. For starters, this would completely eliminate any kind of drunk texting. Of course, you could always use the pattern or pin backup to unlock your phone, but the facial recognition feature could definitely still serve as a indication of whether or not you should drive home or call a cab. If your phone doesn't recognize you, I highly recommend the latter.
Sonja Thompson has worked for TechRepublic since October of 1999. She is currently a Senior Editor and the host of the Smartphones and Tablets blogs.