My wife and I recently purchased the iPhone X and, I must admit, we do like it -- including the unlocking of the phone with facial ID. The following article explains more about this feature, which will be of interest if an iPhone X might be in your future.
This article comes to us courtesy of Don Mayer who, with his wife, are owners of Small Dog Electronics (http://www.smalldog.com/). This is a good place to shop for Apple products -- competitive in price and a very helpful staff.
Let's Face It By Don Mayer
I have had my new iPhone X for a couple weeks now and it is magical in so many ways. Being an old codger, it is truly future shock to be holding such a powerful device in my hand and one that instantly recognizes my face, too! There have been a lot of stories out about Face ID and my first-hand experience is that it just works. It is transparent and I lift up my iPhone and it is unlocked. Contrary, to JoJo’s report a few weeks ago, it is not just black people that it has trouble recognizing in the dark, I have to enter my passcode on occasion when I lean over in bed to see what stupid notification I got at 2AM.
What You Need to Know About Face ID
Apple’s new iPhone X does away with the Home button, which has been a fixture since the original iPhone and has long served as the Touch ID fingerprint sensor. To replace Touch ID, Apple developed a new facial recognition technology called Face ID. With Face ID, the iPhone X scans your face to authenticate you instead of using your fingerprint. It is truly amazing technology! Apple even invested in the company making the scanning lasers that make Face ID work this week.
How does Face ID work?
Freaking Magic. Well, almost. As science fiction author Arthur C. Clarke said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Face ID is cutting-edge technology that uses Apple’s TrueDepth camera system to project over 30,000 invisible dots onto your face. Then it illuminates your face with infrared light and takes an infrared image. Finally, it translates that image into facial recognition data that are encrypted and stored within the iPhone’s Secure Enclave (the data never leaves your iPhone). Face ID updates its mathematical representation of your face overtime to keep up with how your appearance changes.
How secure is Face ID?
Extremely. Apple claims that Touch ID’s false positive rate—the number of people who would have to try logging in to your iPhone before someone would succeed randomly—is 1 in 50,000. In contrast, Apple says that Face ID’s false positive rate is 1 in 1,000,000. It can’t be fooled by a picture or a simple mask, although a high-enough quality 3D reproduction of your face might get past it, just as a sufficiently good cast of your fingerprint could fool Touch ID.
However, Face ID has trouble distinguishing between identical twins and siblings who have nearly identical features. So if you have an evil twin or even a nice twin with a sick sense of humor, stick to a Touch ID-based iPhone or your passcode! The probability of an incorrect match is also higher with children under 13, since their facial features haven’t become sufficiently distinct yet.
By default, Face ID works only when you look at the iPhone X—it can’t be unlocked by your face when you’re sleeping or in my case when I am staring at my Mac’s display with the iPhone on my desk.
How fast is Face ID?
Not quite as fast as Touch ID in current iPhones, but fast enough that you likely won’t notice. When you pick up your iPhone X so you can look at it, Face ID will, in most cases, have already recognized you.
This quick recognition is possible in part because the iPhone X can start scanning early, thanks to iOS’s Raise to Wake feature and a new Tap to Wake feature that automatically wakes the iPhone X when you touch the screen.
What if Face ID doesn’t work?
First off, things like wearing a hat, scarf, or glasses won’t confuse Face ID, nor will growing or shaving a beard. Thanks to that infrared camera, it even works in complete darkness, sorta. It does seem to have more trouble working with black people in the dark or maybe even darker skinned people. However, Face ID does fail occasionally. One reason for a Face ID failure is holding the iPhone X too close to your face—this is easy to do accidently if you’re nearsighted and not wearing your glasses. (Some sunglasses prevent Face ID from seeing your eyes, but you can work around that problem by disabling Require Attention for Face ID in Settings > Face ID & Passcode.)
To make Face ID retry a facial scan, hold the iPhone X at a normal viewing distance, tilt it away from you, and then tilt it back to your normal viewing position. If that doesn’t work, or if you want to let someone else use your iPhone, enter the passcode. Entering the passcode is always an option.
Alas, unlike Touch ID, which let you enroll up to five fingers (so family members could unlock your iPhone without using the passcode), Face ID lets you have only a single face.
Can I use Face ID for anything besides unlocking?
Oh yeah, Face ID completely replaces Touch ID, so you can use it to authenticate when you’re using Apple Pay, or the App Store or iTunes Store. Plus, apps that previously relied on Touch ID, such as the 1Password or LastPass password managers, will automatically use Face ID instead.
We hope Apple can make the hardware necessary for Face ID cheaply enough to bring it to other devices as well. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could walk up to your Mac and have it automatically unlock because it had recognized your face? Now, if it could just read my mind and do my work for me I’d be all set!