Photo Credit: Justin Sullivan/ Getty Images North America/ AFP
Apple recently unveiled its tenth anniversary iPhone, the iPhone X, which is touted to be the future of smartphones and offers a look at where Apple is heading for its next ten years. The iPhone X has a number of firsts for the company: it is the company's first bezel-less iPhone, it is the first $1,000 iPhone, and it is also the first to sport the facial recognition technology that Apple calls Face ID. Following the unveiling, Apple's Craig Federighi has been giving a number of interviews to talk more about the technology behind it as well as addressing some popular concerns.
In an interview with TechCrunch, Federighi explains that the work behind getting Face ID right was extensive, having to collect over a billion images to train the technology. "So, Apple went out and got consent from subjects to provide scans that were 'quite exhaustive'. Those scans were taken from many angles and contain a lot of detail that was then used to train the Face ID system," Federighi says.
More specifically, Apple says of the Face ID that it "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," reports 9to5Mac.
One of the concerns about Face ID has been the inclusion of the option to quickly disable Face ID or Touch ID by gripping the buttons on either side of the phone. This will disable Face ID and will require a passcode to unlock. Federighi says that this feature makes it easier to protect the phone in times of crisis.
"If you were in a case where the thief was asking to hand over your phone - you can just reach into your pocket, squeeze it, and it will disable Face ID. It will do the same thing on iPhone 8 to disable Touch ID."
Face ID also raised issues with how the iPhone will unlock if the user is wearing sunglasses. To this, Federighi says that some sunglasses with IR coating will hide the eyes and Face ID will not work in such cases, something that Federighi had addressed last week as well, alongside the way to disable Face ID.
Interestingly, while Face ID by default requires you to look at the phone to unlock it, Federighi says that there is an option to disable the "attention detection" feature so that it works without looking at your phone directly. This may make it easier for blind or visually impaired users, but also makes the iPhone far less secure. He added that Face ID will not work if the user is wearing a garment that covers the face, but will work just fine if they are wearing a helmet or scarf.
In a separate interview with John Gruber's The Talk Show, Federighi assures that people who get their hands on the iPhone X will have their doubts about Face ID "melt away".
"Honestly, we're just all counting the days until customers can get their hands on these. I think just like with Touch ID, initially people thought, 'Apple's done something that's totally not going to work and I'm not a believer and I'm not going to use this feature... Now, everyone is worried because they can't imagine their life without Touch ID and we're going to see exactly the same thing with Face ID."
Federighi also says Face ID is the way forward in the future of of biometric technology, but that there are setting where a combination of biometric recognition can be used.
One will have to wait and see how well Face ID is received when it reaches people's hand later this year, albeit in limited numbers.