Face ID: Why you shouldn't be worried about iPhone X unlock

iPhone X
iPhone X

Face ID is Apple's new facial identity scanner. It replaces Touch ID, Apple's fingerprint identity scanner, on the next generation iPhones X.

Following its introduction, here's what Apple told me about Face ID:

Our teams have been developing the technologies behind Face ID for several years, and our users' privacy has been a priority since the very beginning.Face ID provides intuitive and secure authentication enabled by the TrueDepth camera system and the A11 Bionic chip, which uses advanced technologies to accurately map and match the geometry of a user's face. Face ID data never leaves the device, is encrypted and protected by the Secure Enclave.We've tested Face ID on people from many countries, cultures, races and ethnicities, using over one billion images to train our neural networks and defend against spoofing.We're confident that our customers will love using the feature and find it an easy and natural way to unlock their iPhone X. We will offer more details on Face ID as we near the product's availability.

Touch ID was a solution to a problem: How to make accessing a secure device faster and more convenient. But it was only one of several potential solutions. Face ID is another. And it's one that has a few downsides but also a significant upside:

Touch ID always had a 1/50,000 chance a random stranger's fingerprint pattern would match yours enough to gain access. For Face ID, that chance drops to 1/1,000,000.

But change is scary and the new is also the unknown. That's why we're already seeing a lot of stress and sensationalism — just like we did with Touch ID.

Let's clear that up.

How does Face ID work?

Face ID works similarly to how Touch ID works but instead of a sensor in the Home button it uses the True Depth camera system on the front of iPhone X.

According to Apple's Face ID Security White Paper (opens in new tab), when you first register with Face ID, the True Depth camera system takes infrared images of your face. Just like you had to move your finger around for Touch ID, you have to move your face around for Face ID. That way the camera system can capture you from a variety of angles and create a depth map of your face.

The resulting data is then sent to the secure enclave where a secure portion of the Apple A11 Bionic chipsets Neural Engine Block transforms it into math.

Here's where there's a difference between Touch ID and Face ID: Touch ID threw away the original enrollment images of your fingerprint at this point. Face ID keeps the original enrollment images of your face (but crops them as tightly as possible so as not to store background information). The reason for this is convenience. Apple wants to be able to update the neural network trained for Face ID without you having to re-register your face. This way, if and when the neural networks are updated, the system will automatically retrain them using the images stored in the same region of the secure enclave.

Like Touch ID, that data is only available within the secure enclave, never leaves the device, is never sent to Apple, and is never included in backups or stored on any servers anywhere.

Once you've registered with Face ID, and you go to unlock, here's what happens:

  1. Attention detection makes sure your eyes are open and you're actively and deliberately looking at your device. This is to help avoid unintentional unlock. (It can be disabled for accessibility, if desired.)
  2. The flood illuminator makes sure there's enough infrared light to "see" your face, even in the dark.
  3. The dot projector creates a contrasting matrix of over 30,000 points.
  4. To counter both digital and physical spoofing attacks, a device-specific pattern is also projected.
  5. The True Depth camera reads the data and captures a randomized sequence of 2D images and depth maps which are then digitally signed and send to the Secure Enclave for comparison. (Randomized to again counter spoofing attacks.)
  6. The portion of the Neural Engine inside the Secure Enclave converts the captured data into math and the secure Face ID neural networks compare it with the math from the registered face.
  7. If the math matches, a "yes" token is released and you're on your way. If it doesn't, you need to try again, fall back to passcode, or stay locked out of the device.

Update: Making purchases with Apple Pay or through the App Store or iTunes is similar, you simply click the side button twice to cue the system, like you do on Apple Watch already.

The secure neural networks were trained specifically for Face ID resolution using over a billion images, including infrared images and depth maps, that Apple collected during informed studies conducted around the world, with representative groups of people from a wide spectrum of origins and backgrounds.

(Apple has actually deployed more than one neural network — including one trained specifically to defend against spoofing attacks.)

Face ID may also store, for a limited time, the math from successful unlock attempts and even from unsuccessful unlock attempts where you immediately followed up by entering the passcode. That's to help the system keep pace with changes to your face or look that might accrue over time, even the more dramatic ones. After it's used the data to augment a limited number of subsequent unlocks, Face ID discards the data and, potentially, repeats the augmentation cycle.

The result is a robust system that, at least based on my limited observations, works with surprising speed and efficiency.

Is Face ID compatible with Touch ID apps?

Any existing Touch ID app will also work with Face ID. Apple has abstracted away the implementation details and simply lets the app ask for biometric authentication and then, if and when an ID matches, authorizes the app.

For iOS 11, developers can add information specific to Touch ID or Face ID in order to provide a better user experience, but the system itself will work either way.

Developers can also require Face ID for a second factor in secure apps, and generate and use ECC keys inside the Secure Enclave that can be unlocked by Face ID.

Does this mean apps get access to my "face"?

No. Just like apps never got access to your fingerprints with Touch ID, they never get access to your face data with Face ID. Once the app asks for authentication, it hands off to the system, and all it ever gets back is that authentication (or rejection).

Then how do Animoji and face tracking apps work?

Apple has a separate system, built into ARKit, the company's augmented reality framework, that provides basic face tracking for Animoji or any apps that want to provide similar functionality.

All it does is provide rudimentary mesh and depth data, though. It never touches Face ID data or the Face ID process.

Can Face ID require passcode the way Touch ID sometimes does?

Face ID works similarly to Touch ID in that it can lock down and require passcode under certain conditions. Here's Apple's list:

  • The device has just been turned on or restarted. >- The device hasn't been unlocked for more than 48 hours. >- The passcode hasn't been used to unlock the device in the last 156 hours (six and a half days) and Face ID has not unlocked the device in the last 4 hours. >- The device has received a remote lock command. >- After five unsuccessful attempts to match a face. >- After initiating power off/Emergency SOS by pressing and holding either volume button and the side button simultaneously for 2 seconds. At any of those points you'd have to use passcode to re-enable Face ID.

Can police or criminals hold your phone up to your face to unlock it without your permission?

One of the biggest areas of fear, uncertainty, and doubt surrounding a potential Face ID facial identity scanner is that it will make it easier to law enforcement and government agencies to gain access to our devices.

(That a significant segment of humanity is more concerned about illegal search and seizure by law enforcement agencies than the criminals they're meant to protect us from should embarrass and appall governments around the world, but that's a different editorial for a different day.)

"Easier" is tough to parse, though. A few years ago, when Touch ID was introduced, we saw similar concerns: That someone could wait for you to fall asleep, or incapacitate or restrain you, and then simply touch your finger to the sensor to unlock your phone. if they didn't know which finger(s) (or, humorously, other body part) you'd used for for Touch ID, there was a chance they could trigger Passcode lockdown after repeated failed attempts, then simply torture you for the answer and/or passcode, but the tendency towards convenience made the thumb the likely digit in almost all cases.

What happens in the real world can always be different than what is later ruled admissible or inadmissible in the courts, and illegal search and seized didn't begin or end with Touch ID and won't begin or end with Face ID. Likewise for individuals on the criminal side who want access.

Face ID, by default, requires you to be looking at iPhone X to unlock. So if you close your eyes and look away, someone would have to force you to open your eyes again for Face ID to unlock. Just like they'd have to force your thumb onto Touch ID to unlock. It would also make it very difficult to have Face ID unlock if you're sleeping, which is currently much easier with Touch ID.

For people who require security, a strong password is available. For those who want convenience, biometrics. Don't want to risk your finger or face being used against you, don't use your finger or face for unlock. (Or disable it by quintuple-clicking the Side button before going places or entering situations you don't trust.)

In a perfect world, Apple would let those who want even more security to require both password and biometrics — and a trusted object like Apple Watch as well. Hopefully, Apple is working on that.

What about masks or makeup, can they fool Face ID?

Another source of concern has been the use of photos, videos, makeup, masks, and evil twins — perhaps even and up to plastic surgery — to gain access through the Face ID system.

Part of the reason for this is too much Hollywood. The other part is poor implementations of face scanning to date, similar to how we had poor implementations of fingerprint scanning before Touch ID.

Yet Hollywood is who Apple turned to to help train the Face ID system. Photos were never a major concern because of how Apple scans faces in 3D space. But, Apple had practical effects artists create makeup and masks to try to fool Face ID, then used that makeup and those masks to train the neural network on the Apple A11 Bionic chip to prevent against just that type of attack.

For example, if an attacker took all the social media photos of you they could find and used it to build and print and 3D mask.

Video spoofing attempts, which can be much harder to detect than static, single-dimensional photos, was similarly trained against.

Will Face ID work in the dark? What about at angles?

People have also been concerned about the utility of Face ID at night or in the dark, at angles like when the phone is flat on a table, and when in use, like for authorizing Apple Pay.

For no or low light, Apple is using a "flood illuminator" to make sure your face remains scannable to infrared. Then the "dot projector" hits you with 30,000 points for identification purposes. The camera system then captures the data, converts it into math, and pushes it through the Neural Network block on the A11 Bionic chip to see if what was captured matches what was registered. If it does, you're authenticated.

The camera system has a fairly wide field of vision so, depending on the exact angles, you can tap the screen to wake iPhone X, and be scanned by Face ID, under a variety of conditions.

You can also disable "attention", which requires you to be looking directly at iPhone X for Face ID to unlock, but for most people leaving it on is better for security.

Can Face ID work through scarves, beards, and glasses?

Because Face ID uses the Neural Network block in Apple's A11 Bionic system-on-a-chip, it continually learns and adapts to how your face, facial hair, hairstyle, and facial coverings vary and change over time.

With the "dot projector" making up to 30,000 points available, there's a lot of data for Face ID to work with. Apple also built and tested the system to make sure it works under the widest varieties of conditions possible.

That includes if you have your glasses on or off (though sun glasses might obscure "attention" mode, which is on by default). If you change your hair style or color. If you grow a mustache and/or beard and then shave them off. If you're wearing religious or climate-based facial coverings (though full-on Canadian-style ski masks and goggles might obscure too many points of identification to be useful — I look forward to testing that!)

There may be cases where too much changes at once and Face ID fails to recognize you. If/when that happens, the system will simply kick you back to Passcode, just like Touch ID does when the moisture level (or wetness) of your finger was different enough to prevent a scan.

How about Apple Pay, isn't that weird with Face ID?

For Apple Pay, the process is largely unchanged.

Double-clicking the Side button replaces double clicking the Home button to invoke Apple Pay, glancing at Face ID replaces holding on Touch ID, and the tap on the NFC payment terminal remains the same.

If you typically invoke Apple Pay buy tapping the NFC terminal first, you may have to pull back to authorize with Face ID, depending on the exact positioning.

Does Face ID work for those with low or no vision? How's the accessibility?

For people who have low or no vision, Face ID will guide you through the setup and authentication process, including cueing you on positioning.

You can also disable "attention" so, even if you're not looking directly at iPhone X, it will still unlock when enough of your face is within the system's field of vision.

Are there any limitations to Face ID?

Yes, there absolutely are some limitations with Face ID that could affect people.

  • If you're under the age of 13, your facial features may not yet be distinct enough for Face ID to function properly and you'll have to revert to passcode.
  • Face ID can't effectively distinguish between identical twins (or triplets, etc.) If you have an identical sibling and you want to keep them out of your iPhone X, you'll have to revert to passcode.
  • Unlike Touch ID which allows for the registration of up to 5 fingers, Face ID currently only allows for one face. That means no sharing easy access with family members, friends, or colleagues.
  • Face ID does need to have your face within view of the camera system to unlock. Touch ID can work regardless of the camera system orientation. That means, in some situations, you will have to adjust your position for Face ID to work.
  • If, for any reason, you don't like the idea of your face being scanned, you'll have to revert to passcode.

Just like Touch ID improved over time, Face ID should improve. For now, though, those may be your showstoppers.

Any Face ID questions?

It's important to remember that biometrics are a convenience. Before Touch ID, many people wouldn't even go to the trouble of using a 4-digit passcode to lock their iPhone. Now, thanks to the convenience, many of them do. It's nowhere nearly as secure as using a long, strong, pseudorandom password for every unlock, but most people won't ever be willing to go through that process daily, much less hundreds of times a day. So, biometrics.

No doubt we'll go through all the same stress and sensationalism with Face ID we went through when Apple introduced Touch ID back in 2013.

We'll see people with CSI-level resources making dummy heads to try to fool it — and it's quite possible some will succeed in the same way they succeeded with Touch ID. We'll see headlines about how your face can now betray you, and goofy examples of facial contortions recommended to avoid forced scanning. We'll see... everything we typically see whenever Apple introduces any new feature.

And then we'll use it, forget the fuss, and move on. Just like we did with Touch ID. Just like we do every year.

Updated September 27, 2017 with information from Apple's Face ID white paper (opens in new tab).

Updated September 15, 2017 with comment from Apple.

Updated September 13, 2017 with information from Apple's iPhone X announcement event.

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • I was hoping this article would address why Face ID failed on stage. Was it a restarted phone that wasn't displaying the message that the phone had restarted, or was it a genuine fail?
  • I read in a different article that it's because the phone had not been unlocked since boot-up before the demo attempt.
  • Yes, but on my 7 Plus it says on the screen it has been restarted. Has this message vanished in ios 11?
  • There's some 8 hour timeout I believe that requires passcode after the time has elapsed, so it was probably that
  • There is no way that the demo phone was left unattended for that long. For starters the podium wasn't on stage when trench coat woman was dribbling on about Town Squares so someone must have set it up in the interim.
  • Who knows, the main thing is Face ID didn't fail, it was just that the passcode was required as a security measure which was something Apple didn't anticipate. After that had been dealt with, it seemed pretty seamless
  • Downvote if you want to ignore the truth, trolls
  • It didn't fail on stage. The phone was prompting Craig to enter a passcode before Face ID could be activated. That happens even now with Touch ID under several conditions... 1. Reboot.
    2. A specific amount of time has passed (I think 8 hours) since the device was unlocked.
    3. Randomly. I'm sure there's some algorithm and pattern detection at work here, but it does ask me sometimes to enter my passcode even when the first two above haven't happened.
  • +1
  • Boom: https://www.imore.com/watch-media-fail-try-and-cover-face-id-demo
  • I have the iphone 5s,why do I now receive repeated reminders from Apple every time I go to use the phone that say 'TOUCH ID CAN NO LONGER BE USED ON THIS PHONE' and of course only recently, same last year at this time, the phone goes flat in less than 10hours of v little use? Little incentive to buy a phone that might then say 'FACE ID CAN NO LONGER......' AND ALL FOR OVER £1000 !!!
  • this article just pumps the Apple hype. We'll see how it fairs in practice.
  • Actually that's the very same point the article makes. As with TouchID and the missing headphone jack, and anything else you care to mention (including the iPod, the iPhone, the iPad, and the Apple Watch, all of which were deemed 'fails' when first announced) everyday use outranks initial scepticism every time.
  • +1
  • I don't remember anyone calling TouchID a failure.
  • It was more when it was first announced. Some laptops had crappy fingerprint readers at the time, so people were skeptical (as usual)
  • Is the "flood illuminator" an actual visible light that shines on your face? I couldn't tell if that was for illustrative purposes, or if it's an actual light. If it's a light, it'll be annoying in the dark; especially since using dark backgrounds/app themes can make the phone emit much less light than before because of the switch to an OLED screen.
  • The TrueDepth camera performs all its magic using infrared light, so I'm guessing it's an infrared flood illuminator.
  • Correct!
  • The "flood illuminator" is infrared, so it is not visible to the naked eye.
  • If it was visible light, why wouldn't they just use the OLED screen light like when you take a selfie? Pretty sure it's IR.
  • I'm hoping it is infrared, but the fact there's also an IR "dot projector" made me curious.
  • It is infrared
  • It won't shine a light in your eyes. That's really not a very 'Apple' thing to do. Mind you, the screen coming on will have the same effect so...
  • It does shine light in your eyes, it's just not in a visible wavelength.
  • Depending on what background you use the phone could emit much less light than it does now, because on an OLED screen black doesn't emit light.
  • I don't mind Face ID replacing Touch ID. What I do have a problem with is the 10th anniversary iPhone not coming with any innovative features and costing 300 bucks more than the previous generation. Siri was an innovation no one else had. The same goes for Touch ID, 3D Touch, and I would argue the Retina Display. Yes Apple comes late to the party sometimes but when it does it usually knocks it out of the park. 10th Anniversary iPhone and no innovative, Apple only features? Kind of sad :(
  • That may be because the iPhone X is not the final product that Apple wanted to release but was forced to. This is why I'm skipping out on it, not saying it's bad, especially for an 80% baked product, but it's not 100% baked and it's still $1000 so I'm skipping out on it. I'd say in about a year or 2 we will see the iPhone X Apple wanted to show the world, and I'll be ready for it then.
  • How is it an 80% baked product?
  • I was trying to figure how it's an 80% baked product too. Also, where was it stated that Apple was forced to release this one? It'll be interesting to see if they release an iPhone 9 one day. Releasing an 8 & a 10 (Reminds me a little of MS Windows 10) it will now confuse the issue with future numbering...That's just a side thought though.
  • “Where was it stated that Apple was forced to release...” Because on the Internet rumor, innuendo, and FUD are transformed instantly into objective fact. That’s how the Internet was designed. Bush 43 ordered the 9/11 attacks don't you know.
  • +1 Pretty much this ⬆️
  • Those wretched horns for a starter.
  • Those are clearly a deliberate part of the design, as they're clearly visible in the "phone outline" images that got leaked
  • Doesn't stop them from being aesthetically or ergonomically repellent.
  • Maybe so, but it means that they're here to stay for at least a few years
  • If you think the iPhone X is an 80% baked product then you my friend have ridiculously over high expectations. The iPhone X is a phenominal polished and innovative product that leaves the competition in the dust and will sell millions.
  • Would you mind explaining the innovation? I'm truly wondering what you saw on that stage. I plan on purchasing the X, myself. But I wouldn't call it "innovative". Everything we saw on that stage already exists in some for. They pushed the envelope with the facial recognition, I'll give them that. But I'm curious as to what else you saw that was "innovative".
  • I wouldn't say it's 80% baked - it is highly polished IMO. But the only real innovation might be a more effective face unlock system that alternatives like Windows Hello. Not sure it's worth a $300 premium but I have no problem with Apple charging that since there are issues with how many they can make Not a bad thing to push as many users as they can to the 8 to keep overall sales numbers sky high.
  • "leaves the competition in the dust" My Note 8 thinks otherwise.
  • Oh please, Applejacks don't know there are other companies in the world other than apple. He was referring to the previous versions of the iPhone as competition.
  • The iPhone X is better in some areas, but not all. This always happens when you compare new phones though, each have their own advantages
  • Totally agree. I don't care what all of the apple people say ( I have 7+, SE, ipad ATV, imac and macbook pro) so I can say this is not something I'll use or get use to because I choose not to. Just because we use apple stuff don't mean we can't not like it and don't want to have to get use to it. I don't like the cut out and looks stupid watching a video with that cutout actually in the way of the video. Black bar would fix that. I am not using a phone that change the way I use my phone not the changing the way I use my phone because of the phone. I can't reach over and unlock my phone without picking it up with face id so I don't want it. The Note 8 at least gave you more than one option. Doesn't matter apple fans will but it so Apple never have to make good decisions people will just complain and buy it anyway.
  • I agree with most of this. Went back to iOS (7 plus) from a Samsung Note 5. Although the Note had a fingerprint scanner, it was no where near as fast or forgiving as Touch ID is. I have difficulty believing that Face ID is going to be better or more convenient. Unlocking my iPhone or using Apple Pay is lightning fast right now and does not require me to look at anything. I love the small/no bezel trend but would have rather seen a different route (Touch ID on the back of the phone or other design options) rather than FaceID based on what I'm seeing on YouTube to date. I'm certainly willing to give it the benefit of the doubt and see how it performs in real life when released to the general public. Hopefully it'll be tweaked up or perform better after a short acclimatization period.
  • Touch ID is very temperamental for me and many others due to having clammy hands or some other reason. Face ID is a solution which will work on a larger audience, with the slight and arguably trivial inconvenience of having to look at the phone
  • When you watch the a video, you can watch it letterboxed (so it doesn't fill the full screen, and doesn't include the notch) or fullscreen (where the notch come into play). And if you don't want the X, the iPhone 8/8Plus are great phones too.
  • So letterbox with virtual bezels... Makes perfect sense for a high end thin bezel phone...
  • Then you can watch it without the letterbox? You have the option…
  • This is my concern too. I am not too concerned re unauthorised access and am willing to trust that FaceID is comparatively difficult to fool as Touch ID. However having used a Lumia 950 for a while I am concerned that the requirement to be looking at the phone / hold the phone in roughly the same position will be similarly inconvenient. I am willing to delay final judgement until we know more but this is what I am really keen to hear about from reviewers as at the moment I am inclined to pass on the X primarily for this reason. Also it would be really nice to have both Touch and a Face ID both for convenience and to inc security on certain sensitive Apps/Data by requiring both forms of authentication together.
  • Touch ID is very temperamental for me and many others due to having clammy hands or some other reason. Face ID is a solution which will work on a larger audience, with the slight and arguably trivial inconvenience of having to look at the phone.
  • I understand that because of the general concerns of an uninformed, hysterical public, aided and abetted by click bait journalism, Apple has decided to withdraw all of its products from retail.
  • I don't remember any stress over Touch ID.
  • Me either. I feel like they are just using that as an excuse for why people are upset over faceID
  • Not really, Touch ID had a lot of silly complaints. Face ID is just history repeating itself
  • There was plenty, go back and look at news articles from when the iPhone 5S was released
  • That was largely due to it being tricked with a gummy bear a couple of hours after it was released.
  • Either way, people's worries about Face ID are mostly unfounded. I'm sure some people will have issues but I think the majority will find it a smooth unlocking process
  • I'm sure you're right but let's wait to see it in action first, yes? Blind faith in a company isn't helpful to anyone.
  • You misspelt Brand Loyalty
  • I've had Macs since the mid 90s and iPhones since 2008. I have brand loyalty. What I don't do is constantly defend everything Apple do, which is the blind faith that many seem compelled to do. I can understand why Rene et al have to thanks to Apple's egregious policy of blacklisting journalists who are critical of them, but as its customers we should be always ensuring our loyalty isn't abused. One of the major drawbacks of the Apple ecosystem is that once you've invested in it, it's very challenging to move away.
  • It's not blind faith from me, I'm aware that like new features on iPhones in the past, Face ID may have some 1st gen issues. But based on history, I doubt they will be anything serious
  • My iPhone 6S+ in my pocket can be activated with touch ID without looking and in a fraction of a second and my wife can unlock my phone while I'm driving because of multiple touch ID fingers. face ID is not better or faster. Its a last minute compromise Apple choose because they couldn't get on screen finger ID to work.
    I'm passing on this batch of iPhones.
  • Touch ID doesn't work a lot of the time for me. My hands get clammy, so Touch ID can be very temperamental at times. Face ID would work much better for someone like me
  • Fingerprint reader on the back would've made 1000x more sense. I'm marginally concerned that this has much better tech to watch me as I use the phone. Not likely to be widely used, but I'm not sure I need it unlocking with my face. As they said, this doesn't work for identical twins. Fingerprints would. This is a step back for Apple. Each new feature didn't impede the previous ones. If I want control center on this, I need to re-position my hand to reach the top. Doesn't look like they kept "double tap the home button to drag the top down. Could've gone the Samsung route and added a new button as well. double tap for control center, press once for Siri. Honestly, I think the X is an experiment for Apple. If they really wanted to do this, they would have made the 8 and the X the same phone. They're also testing the market for pricing, that's why they upped the prices of the iPad.
  • Agree. Could have used the apple logo as the FP sensor. Nothing wrong with having multiple options.
  • If you're going to have multiple options they need to both work well. A fingerprint reader on the back does not work well
  • It works well if placed right. The AppleLogo would be the perfect location more or less. On my 5x I never have issues unlocking. Apple did this instead because they were too set on this design, rather than changing it. They even looked at how to put the fingerprint reader in the screen (allegedly). They could have figured a way to make the 8 have these features, the X is an experiment imho.
  • I don't think the X is an experiment, Apple seems very set on the design, and they certainly aren't known for taking features away and putting them back, so Touch ID won't be returning. Besides, Face ID is a lot more secure than Touch ID, and Touch ID was very temperamental for me among others too, so Face ID will work for a bigger audience. More secure, works for a bigger audience. I think that's a step forward imho
  • I don't see how it's more secure. I haven't had issues with TouchID nor Android's version. They even said twins will not work well, so arguably they're cutting out .7% of the population (saw 3.5 out of 1000 births are identical, so .35% of births, or .7% of the population seems high but Idk). I don't think identical twins have the same fingerprints. I think the jury is out on more secure until people can bang on it. I'm curious how it'd work with someone passed out and eyes painted on. Let alone masks. Either way, as someone who owns a Nexus 5x and iPhone 7+ (and GS8+), the Nexus 5x has the best placement for the fingerprint reader, then the 7+, then the GS8+, but the GS8+ is better if you want bezelless. Apple should have put it inside the Apple logo on the back.
  • Well you can't "see" how it's more secure, but the technology itself is more secure. Of course this is just Apple's word at the moment, but Apple aren't known for lying, only exaggerating. I'm pretty sure when people get their hands on it they will tear apart the technology behind Face ID like they did with Touch ID, and it will be proven that it is more secure.
  • Fingerprint reader on the back was the most stupid thing Samsung did after making a self-destructing phone. It's awkward and uncomfortable to reach. The 8 is there for people who don't want to pay $1000
  • No, the fingerprint on the back works ok on my S8+ (ok because of the location), but it is *perfect* on my 5x. The 8 is for people who don't want to be forced to swipe from the top for actions like the new control center (which is why Steve Jobs made the reachability this phone kills). 35 phones had bad batteries, whereas how many iPhones bricked after they deactivated the entire iPhone that had a screen replaced instead of just disabling the TouchID? I'd know as I took those calls at that time, many DSATs were had.
  • Moving the control center from the bottom to the top isn't really that big of a deal given this is exactly what Android does. Also Reachability is coming to the iPhone X:
  • It's what Android does in a sense. But I hope the corner is a setting, otherwise it's harder for lefties. The fact that it's not there at launch makes me think that this was a last minute idea Apple had not one well thought out.
  • The iPhone X hasn't launched yet. It will be releasing with iOS 11.1, which also hasn't released yet. iOS 11.1 will give the iPhone X Reachability support for when the iPhone X is available to consumers
  • A fingerprint reader on the back of the phone is not awkward, nor uncomfortable. Have you tried using a phone that implements it well, like the Google Pixel? Samsung clearly did it wrong, but Google did it right.
  • Apple made TouchID secure by making it so it was device only and not stored anywhere else, same with FaceID. Apple now adds the ability to go into SOS mode and lock out the phone so FaceID won't work, especially important given the climate for law enforcement abuse and arrests of citizens standing up for their rights. Of course everyone should go one step further and set their phone to auto upload photos and video in case the law enforcement decides to "lose" or bust your phone. This way the proof is out of reach. This was key to one person in Canada who sued the RMCP he had video proof he auto uploaded and then turned off his phone before they go it.
  • Great Job Rene. Thanks for Enlightening us and giving us the Facts.....
  • Great article, and I'm a big advocater of personal privacy but , Why is everyone SO concerned about whether the police can unlock your phone?? If you're not a criminal why should you be concerned?? 98% (I hope) of the public shouldn't care. The government has been data mining your text anyways for years...
  • So you trust the police, security services et al to not abuse their powers or legislation to force you to hand over your data?
  • You have a point, albeit I live in the UK and the police cannot legally shove your phone into your face. But in some other countries not naming any names, this may be a problem. What you can do though, is if you turn your phone off when come into contact with the police, then you'll have to use the passcode. There's also SOS mode
  • You provided some info that I was not aware of about the attention setting. I would turn it off. So the way I read about how this face ID works is that what ever you set up or enroll with is what you have to duplicate every time you want to unlock the phone. So do you think you can enroll with your hand let say in a certain way and it will accept that enrollment, then just show your hand and unlock the phone or if not can you lets say enroll with your hand over some of your face and 1 eye open and it enroll you then I understand you will have to do that every time you want to unlock the phone. I don't want to have to show my normal walking around face if I don't have to. A another security layer if you will. Any thoughts about this appreciated.
  • All of those limitations do kinda make the iPhone X look like a $1000 beta testing device.
  • Let's go through these "limitations" shall we? "If you're under the age of 13, your facial features may not yet be distinct enough for Face ID to function properly and you'll have to revert to passcode." This is to be expected, and will happen with any facial recognition (like Windows Hello, for example) "Face ID can't effectively distinguish between identical twins (or triplets, etc.) If you have an identical sibling and you want to keep them out of your iPhone X, you'll have to revert to passcode." The majority of people won't run into this issue, and the people that do have twins will have to be careful around 1 or 2 people that they might even trust. This is really a non-issue. "Unlike Touch ID which allows for the registration of up to 5 fingers, Face ID currently only allows for one face. That means no sharing easy access with family members, friends, or colleagues." This is genuine limitation, and I'm not sure why Apple has gone with this, so this point is valid. "Face ID does need to have your face within view of the camera system to unlock. Touch ID can work regardless of the camera system orientation. That means, in some situations, you will have to adjust your position for Face ID to work." Touch ID required a finger, Face ID requires… a face. Common sense. "If, for any reason, you don't like the idea of your face being scanned, you'll have to revert to passcode." Same thing with Touch ID. So, out of all these, there's 1 valid limitation. Does this 1 limitation make the iPhone X look like a $1000 beta testing device? I think not.
  • Love the Face ID. Many times I have thing on my fingers and touch ID does not work. When they are clean it works like a charm. I wonder if I eat a bunch of cheesy puffs if it will still work? HEHEHEHE. iPhone X is a great next phone but for those who don't want it fine makes it easier for me. One thing you can always count on Apple for is making things that work ok and make them work great. Cannot wait to get my face on one.
  • I use Windows Hello, both facial and iris, and prefer it to any touch system. This one will be fine.
  • This is Apple at its best, delivering another magical experience and people will love it.
  • You people with your law enforcement concerns. Jesus. Be more melodramatic please. It's the cops! Erase everything! Dumbasses. Only concern I have with FaceID is if it makes you look as stupid when unlocking your phone as the Iris Scanning feature of the Samsung phones does.
  • Doesn't really make you look stupid, you look at your phone and that's it. People are staring at their phones these days anyway so they already look stupid
  • Thanks, Rene. I can’t believe the FUD that is being spread so thickly around this feature. Well, actually, I can believe it since it happens all the time. Just wait until the first iPhone X is in hacker’s hands and we’ll see soon enough if FaceID delivers on its promises. But even there I expect to see FUD and faked videos of FaceID being bypassed like we did with TouchID.
  • +1, it's the same with anything new
  • hmm forgot to mention the obvious -: touch id was one of the main reasons for my buying the 5s....
  • Could we get maybe Jerry from AC to do a write up on this? I'd rather get my security info from someone objective that knows what they're talking about. This is actually a cheerleading piece.
  • The best thing about fingerprint scanners: once you know where they are, there's no need to look at it. The phone can be in your pocket when you unlock it, and voila. No matter how fast FaceID is, fingerprint scanners will always be faster (at least the good ones).
  • +1
  • since it's based on infrared, i'm wondering if very hot or very cold conditions will affect its reliability. speaking of really cold, i'm glad that faceID will work while wearing gloves in the winter (although it does mean having to pull the scarf away from my face)!
  • Face ID will require a passcode after not being unlocked for 4 hours. That seems a little inconvenient. So this means every morning, or after a long meeting etc we will be prompted for a passcode? Seems too short of a time period to me. I have never run into that with Touch ID. I would rather that time span be longer!
  • Can I hold up an 8x10 photo of Mary in front of her phone and unlock it?
  • Great article, thanks Rene! I have a question that I haven't been able to find an answer to. I'm an app developer, and my app uses Touch ID to submit a large financial transaction. It's important that the user explicitly confirms that they are OK with that, which is inherent in the Touch ID flow. We present the Touch ID alert screen programmatically, and as soon as the user touches their fingerprint, the transaction is submitted. How will these same APIs work with Face ID? I would not be comfortable if:
    1. We present the Face ID dialog programmatically
    2. The user happens to be looking at the screen, it recognizes their face nearly instantly, and submits the transaction automatically Do you know if, for these types of Touch ID use cases, the APIs will require some sort of explicit confirmation of intent by the user? e.g. will they be required to double-press the side button to use Face ID in the app? A careful reading of the Face ID white paper still has not answered by question. Thanks!
  • “Attention detection makes sure your eyes are open and you're actively and deliberately looking at your device. This is to help avoid unintentional unlock. (It can be disabled for accessibility, if desired.)” Didn’t MKBHD prove a flaw in this matter. All he did was point the phone at someone’s face, while they were staring at it and bam!! Unlocked!! Not saying this is some sort of epidemic scenario waiting to happen. But say I wanted pretend to check how a persons iPhone X felt like, pretend like a notification popped up, turn on the screen, quickly tell them “hey what’s this,” have them stare at the camera long enough and bam I managed to unlocked their phone while still in my possession?? Touch ID or Face ID, Apple still needs an App Lock with either Touch ID, Face ID and a SEPARATE passcode than from the Lockscreen. I can’t believe that after 11 OS iterations, something like an App lock or turn off protection still requires a Jailbreak.
  • This certainly doesn't look easier or faster than touch id.
  • Even if the erroneous unlock works better with wrong training, it does not change the fact that it had to fail at least once without being trained on the wrong face.