During Apple’s Keynote last week, the company showed off its new FaceID feature on the brand new iPhone X. The unveiling couldn’t have gone without some sort of controversy. Here’s everything you need to know and why not to worry about it.
FaceID will be replacing TouchID on Apple’s iPhone X as it has no room for a home button with the massive 5.8” Super Retina Display. FaceID will accompany a number of sensors (below) to make the feature not only simple but also incredibly secure. With a number of depth sensing sensors, the feature won’t unlock your device with a printed photo, and its sensors require your eyes to be open, preventing people from unlocking your device when you are sleep. An Infrared sensor allows the feature to work in the dark and a combination of all of the sensors allows the scanner to work even if you are wearing sunglasses or a hat. Apple claims that FaceID is up to 2x more secure than its TouchID, with a 1 in 1,000,000 chance of someone being able to unlock your device without your face. Obviously an identical twin, or other factor(s) could impact that, but for everyday use the feature will be very secure.
During the presentation, however, Craig Federighi (Apple’s Senior Vice President of Software Engineering) had trouble getting FaceID to work on the primary iPhone. This caused a firestorm on Twitter, and a number of Youtubers already claiming that FaceID won’t work. If any one of those creators would have been watching the Keynote, they would have known these claims are nothing more than a load of crap boost viewership. Craig quickly grabbed their back-up iPhone and FaceID worked instantly. The first iPhone displayed a message asking Craig to unlock the device with a passcode. This is very similar when TouchID is invalid after several attempts to unlock a device with a fingerprint that is not valid, and it asks the user to enter their passcode. Apple quickly released a statement saying:
“People were handling the device for stage demo ahead of time and didn’t realize Face ID was trying to authenticate their face,” the Apple rep reportedly said in a statement. “After failing a number of times, because they weren’t Craig, the iPhone did what it was designed to do, which was to require his passcode. Face ID worked as it was designed to.”
This explanation is very plausible. It will, undoubtedly, raise some questions for potential buyers such as, “How sensitive will the FaceID sensors be?”, “Will the phone always be looking for a face to scan and drain my battery?”, etc. These are all valid questions, however, we should not be making assumptions before the phone ships on November 3. If we think back to when TouchID was first being rolled out, these same questions were being asked, and buyers were skeptical. Look at TouchID now, it was perfect to begin with and has become even better and a staple feature of the iPhone.
The team at Apple has been working on this technology for years, and I am sure they have accounted for all of these variables. If anything, it was good this happened on stage as it gives the team at Apple more real life data to make FaceID as perfect as possible before it ships to customers in November. Craig is confident that all of these worries about FaceID will “melt” away once people get their hands on the phone, and I would not be surprised at all if that were to be the case.