Why can’t Google get biometric login (aka, fingerprint and face recognition) right on its Pixel phones?
I am a Android fanboy who generally loves Google’s Pixel phones and has not owned an iPhone since, like, version 1.0. But I have been repeatedly disappointed by Google’s implementation of fingerprint and face recognition for login purposes.
Case in point: the Pixel 6 Pro that I obtained two weeks ago has the most unreliable fingerprint reader I have ever encountered. And I am not alone in this opinion–as a Google search quickly reveals:
My main beef with the fingerprint reader is its unreliability. I’d say it responds after a single press about 40% of the time. More aggravating is that about 10% of the time it does not work at all. And I am forced to enter my PIN. Oh, the inconvenience of it all!
Perhaps this would not be as annoying if the previous Pixel–the Pixel 5–did not have a perfect fingerprint reader. It was in just the right place (the middle of the phone’s back) so that my finger naturally felt it when I pulled the phone out of my pocket. And the only times that it could not read my finger correctly was when it was wet or the print was otherwise obscured.
Additionally, the fingerprint reader was a huge improvement over the biometric reader of the previous Pixel release, which relied solely on face recognition. The Pixel 4’s face recognition seldom worked as advertised for me and then (hello, COVID!) when I started covering my face it became utterly useless. In fact, I bought the Pixel 5 mostly to escape face recognition.
Man, I loved the Pixel 5 fingerprint reader. When Google announced that it was moving the reader from the phone’s back to the screen on the front, I vowed not to buy the Pixel 6. I was persuaded to get one, however, by the improvements in the camera, which are pretty doggone amazing.
Thus, I don’t regret my purchase of the Pixel 6, but it’s time for Google to admit that its flagship phone’s biometrics are crap.
We have decided to move the Crappy Software blog once again.
For the past five years, we have been irregularly posting rants about crappy software on a self-hosted WordPress site at crappysoftware.tvcrit.com, to which we had moved after Blogger became intolerably crappy. Don’t get us wrong, we still like WordPress, but–good gawd!–it’s become such a target for hackers that plugging security holes has become a full-time occupation.
So, we’ve decided to make our new home on WordPress.com–where hopefully the security vulnerabilities are immediately fixed. Our new URL is clunky: crappysoftware.home.blog. And we’re too cheap to pay for an ad-free version of the blog. That’s why you’ll see some click-bait-y ads popping up every once in a while.
We started the Crappy Software Blog on August 24, 2005. In the intervening years, software has definitely not gotten any less crappy. And so we soldier on…
When I moved into my first home in 1987, I partially did so to have my own clothes washer and dryer and escape the monotony and tyranny of the laundromat. I bought what would now be considered a “low efficiency,” top-loading washer that worked flawlessly for me for 14 years.
Then, my wife and I bought our first washer together–a “high efficiency” (what a load of crap), front-loading machine, by Frigidaire (the Affinity model). Since then it’s been one problem after another. (See my previous post about it.)
The washer soon developed a mildew stain on the rubber gasket on the front-loading door–despite our care with drying it out after each load and running its cleaning cycles. Turns out, this is a known issue that has affected hundreds of thousands of front-loading HE machines. There was even a class-action lawsuit about it.
To repair it is a major, expensive proposition. If you hire a pro to do it, it costs more than a new washer.
So, we bit the bullet and bought a new washer, donating the old one to a friend. We stuck with HE (big mistake), but got a top loader. Specifically, we spent about $600 at Lowe’s on a Maytag 5.3-cu ft high-efficiency top-load washer (model # MVWB835DW0). It had thousands of positive reviews and an average of 4.5 stars.
What a mistake.
From the start, my wife had trouble with lint gathering on her clothes if she hung them up to dry and did not run them through the dryer.
Then, after about a year, it began having a rotten-eggs smell after washing a load. No number of cleaning cycles would get rid of it. Online message boards are filled with complaints about this.
Final straw: This week, 14 months into our ownership of it, the machine began getting stuck in the rinse mode. Won’t go from there to spin without pausing the machine, raising the lid, and re-starting it.
And we’ve never felt that it effectively cleaned our clothes either.
All in all, a piece of crap, and an expensive piece of crap, too.
First, a recent attempt to update you failed. Now, EVERY time I boot my computer I get this error message about APSDaemon failing. A quick Googling reveals that MANY folks are afflicted with this error.
Do I bother trying to troubleshoot this, or do I just uninstall iTunes on this computer–on which I seldom use iTunes anyway because my iPad and iPod are synced to another computer and iTunes does not like us to share accounts among computers.
If computer software could be a dickhead, iTunes would be a dickhead.
Today, whenever I try to do anything on Blogger, I get this error message:
We’re sorry, but we were unable to complete your request. When reporting this error to Blogger Support or on the Blogger Help Group, please: Describe what you were doing when you got this error. Provide the following error code. bX-kn464r
Weird thing is, whatever I was trying to do (start a new post, publish a post) WORKS, despite the error message.
At the end of my crappy, mandatory, 90-minute, obviously lawyer-induced, the University-covering-its-ass training course in (1) reporting child abuse (how many younger-than-18 students do I encounter?) and (2) handling hazardous materials (which I never do), there was a box for comments. So I wrote:
“Very poorly designed training course. Should NOT rely on browser pop-ups and should NOT be written in Java (a computer language with numerous security holes).”
(The training platform was so poorly implemented that the College tech support had to configure special computers in a lab for faculty and staff to use. Most folks could not get it to run on their own computers.)
Today I got a response from Skillsoft customer support that said, “Thank you for sending in feedback. We appreciate it when subscribers take the time to tell us how they are finding the service. Our courses are designed to work on as many configurations as possible.”
I guess I should be accustomed to the marketing of electronics products being full of crap, but it’s still disappointing when you get tripped up by it when purchasing an expensive device that is virtually unreturnable. Here is my story of my latest encounter with crappy, misleading marketing:
I enjoy Pandora radio and I’d worked out a clunky system for getting it to play through my car stereo. It involved a gizmo plugged in to my car’s aux input and the manual control of Pandora on my Droid Incredible 2 phone. So, when I had a little extra cash from a textbook royalty check, I thought I’d splurge on a car receiver that handled Pandora without the extra gizmo. And then my tech fever escalated and I decided to go for a unit that also incorporated GPS and phone features.
This drew me to the Pioneer AVIC-X940BT (who names these things? former rocket scientists?), which seemed to have everything I needed and, the Mobile Electronics salesman told me, would display Pandora data and allow me to control Pandora right through the device’s interface–connecting to my phone via Bluetooth.
Compatible with Apple iOS, as well as Android devices that support the Bluetooth Serial Port Profile (SPP). Simply download the free Pandora Radio app to your iPhone or Android device and connect to the AVIC-X940BT and take your music to the next level.
The Droid Incredible 2 does indeed support Bluetooth Serial Port Profile so I thought I was all set.
I poked around everywhere I could on the Pioneer Website, but nowhere could I find a specific list of compatible devices. All I found were displays like the one below that seem to confirm compatibility with Android.
And so I bit. I paid too much money to have the unit installed by Mobile Electronics.
Everything seemed to be fine with pairing my phone, via Bluetooth, with the AVIC-X940BT until I tried to get Pandora to work. Then I began encountering error messages about the inability to connect:
Bluetooth connection is disconnected. Press “Connect” to connect.
This message appeared while I was already connected. I scoured the PDF manual (of course they don’t give you a real paper manual anymore) for an answer.When I found the following fine print (“Compatibility with all Android devices is not guaranteed.”) buried in the 240-page manual, I suspected I was in trouble.
Then I went back to Mobile Electronics to ask about it. An installer dude checked it out and declared that it wasn’t supposed to work with Pandora. That Pandora only works via a wired connection to an iPhone.
I knew that wasn’t right, but the installer dude couldn’t be convinced otherwise. So I called Pioneer’s tech support–after Googling around turned up no solid info. There I had it confirmed: the AVIC-X940BT is not compatible with the Droid Incredible 2–an Android 2.2+ phone that’s less than a year old and supports Bluetooth SPP. In fact, the tech guy tried to replicate my situation using his own Droid phone and his model didn’t work either. He found a list that states that only 12 specific Android phones work with Pandora and this Pioneer unit.
I told the guy to please tell his supervisor that I am extremely disappointed about this and that the marketing of the AVIC-X940BT as compatible with Android phones supporting Bluetooth SPP is very misleading and should be corrected. The tech guy said he would “capture that feedback” and pass it along.
Ah well, at least this unit does, like, 70% of what I bought it for. And, who knows, maybe a firmware update will solve my problem? Or maybe my next smartphone will be one of the compatible ones.
But still it’s sad to have the crappiness of electronics marketing confirmed. Again.
Update 3:50, Thursday:
Well, get this. In his NY Times column today, David Pogue is dealing with the same Pandora issues as me–although in his Toyota Prius! See “Pogue’s Posts: The Prius V and Its Entune System”, in the May 3 NY Times. Turns out that Pandora in the Prius does not work wirelessly with the iPhone, but does with Android!
But probably not the Droid Incredible 2, I’d wager.