Wednesday, November 8, 2017

iPhone X Face ID

Michael Potuck:

While Apple has touted that Face ID is more secure than Touch ID, it also shared that this isn’t the case for twins and those under the age of 13. Now that a few outlets have had more time with the iPhone X, we’re seeing some mixed results when it comes to identical twins tricking Face ID.


Today, Business Insider,Mashable, and The Wall Street Journal put Face ID to the test with identical twins and triplets…and so far it looks like a false match probability of 3 out of 4 (with extremely limited testing).


Another interesting note from the Mashable article is that Windows has apparently solved the twin problem with its Windows Hello facial recognition.

Emmanuel Ocbazghi (via Mitchel Broussard):

I was pretty shocked that the iPhone X could really pick apart the details between me and my [twin] brother, considering some of our own family members can’t tell us apart.

Chance Miller:

Apple touts that Face ID is even more secure than Touch ID was, with there being a 1 in 1,000,000 chance of a different person being able to unlock someone else’s iPhone X with Face ID. A new video posted to Reddit, however, shows Face ID failing to properly differentiate between siblings…

[Update (2017-11-08): It sounds like the siblings inadvertently trained Face ID that they were the same person.]

Adrian Weckler:

Pretty fully used to the iPhone X now, and overall it’s a superior phone. One issue with Face ID, in fluorescent light. Otherwise flawless.

Matthew Panzarino:

Here’s a theory about why folks who haven’t used the iPhone X for several days might get more Face ID misses: it’s a learning computer.

James Vincent:

Here’s what the infrared dot projector on the iPhone X’s Face ID looks like when viewed using a night vision cam[…]

Russell Ivanovic:

Face ID is very nice. But anyone who tells you it works flat on a table without awkwardly towering over it might be yanking your chain 😂

Overall though I’d take it over Touch ID. It actually does feel more convenient. Didn’t expect it to either.

Dan Masters:

Face ID works well—doesn’t work at my desks at all though

Jordan Merrick:

The iPhone X can be unlocked with a passcode instead of Face ID, but it's not obvious how to do it. To use a passcode, tap the screen to wake up the iPhone, swipe up on the Home bar, and tap “Face ID”.

I do this to unlock my iPhone while it's lay down flat on my desk.

Long Zheng:

I just ran into the HUGE flaw with #iPhoneX Face ID. It doesn’t work in other orientations besides normal portrait. Can’t unlock in bed

Michael Love:

Face ID was better than 5s Touch ID on day 1, even better now (it actually seems to be improving for stuff-in-front-of-my-face somewhat).

Juli Clover:

It took 1.2 seconds for Spoonauer to unlock the iPhone X from pressing the side button on the side of the device and another 0.4 seconds to swipe up to get to the lock screen, while getting to the Home screen on an iPhone 7 Plus using Touch ID took 0.91 seconds.

When using Raise to Wake and swiping up on the display as the iPhone is recognizing a face (as Face ID is meant to be used, according to John Gruber), unlocking was faster at a total of 1.16, but Spoonaeur still found it to be slower than Touch ID.

In a raw comparison like that, Touch ID seems like the faster unlocking method, but as TechCrunch’s Matthew Panzarino points out, in actual day-to-day usage, Face ID has benefits over Touch ID because it’s a more streamlined interaction.

M.G. Siegler:

It’s hard to describe how well done FaceID is. So well done that it’s subtle in use. Obviously how this should have always been done.

Which makes the minor blow up over unlock speed versus TouchID even more silly. It’s 1000x better. The button will not be missed.

Jason Snell:

I’ll be honest: The combination of the Touch ID sensor with the iPhone’s home button led me to bad behavior. My habit was always to lay my thumb on the sensor and then push the button, a combination that invariably led me to unlock the phone and send it to the home screen. The idea of gently laying my thumb on the home button and then taking it off in order to browse notifications rarely, if ever, occurred to me.

Ben Thompson:

Face ID isn’t perfect: there are a lot of edge cases where having Touch ID would be preferable. By its fourth iteration in the iPhone 7, Touch ID was utterly dependable and, like the best sort of technology, barely noticeable.

FaceID takes this a step further: while it takes a bit of time to change engrained habits, I’m already at the point where I simply pick up the phone and swipe up without much thought; authenticating in apps like 1Password is even more of a revelation — you don’t have to actually do anything.


The trick Apple pulled, though, was going beyond that: the first time I saw notifications be hidden and then revealed (as in the GIF above) through simply a glance produced the sort of surprise-and-delight that has traditionally characterized Apple’s best products. And, to be sure, surprise-and-delight is particularly important to the iPhone X: so much is new, particularly in terms of the interaction model, that frustrations are inevitable; in that Apple’s attempt to analogize the iPhone X to the original iPhone is more about contrasts than comparisons.

Ian McDowell:

Apple Pay is so cumbersome now with Face ID...has taken me multiple tries each time I’ve used it with my new phone 😞

Update (2017-11-08): Tommy Collison:

I’m interested in Face ID from an accessibility standpoint. PINs and Touch ID take fine motor control that not everyone has.

Tanner Bennett:

When Face ID doesn’t work the first time, you have to lock the phone to try again AFAICT. That’s pretty unintuitive and annoying.

Update (2017-11-10): Rich Mogull:

Put simply, Face ID is the most compelling advancement in security I have seen in a very long time. It’s game changing not merely due to the technology, but due to Apple’s design and implementation.

Update (2017-11-13): Tim Bradshaw (via Ivan Krstić):

The real secret to both FaceID and TouchID, however, is that they are easier to use than manually typing a numerical passcode to unlock the phone. More customers, therefore, are likely to leave this vital security protection turned on. Even the most rock solid of security systems is useless if customers turn it off because it is too complicated.

Andy Greenberg:

When Apple released the iPhone X on November 3, it touched off an immediate race among hackers around the world to be the first to fool the company’s futuristic new form of authentication. A week later, hackers on the actual other side of the world claim to have successfully duplicated someone’s face to unlock his iPhone X—with what looks like a simpler technique than some security researchers believed possible.

On Friday, Vietnamese security firm Bkav released a blog post and video showing that—by all appearances—they’d cracked Face ID with a composite mask of 3-D-printed plastic, silicone, makeup, and simple paper cutouts, which in combination tricked an iPhone X into unlocking. That demonstration, which has yet to be confirmed publicly by other security researchers, could poke a hole in the expensive security of the iPhone X, particularly given that the researchers say their mask cost just $150 to make.

Update (2017-11-15): Bruce Schneier:

I don’t think this is cause for alarm, though. Authentication will always be a trade-off between security and convenience. FaceID is another biometric option, and a good one. I wouldn’t be less likely to use it because of this.

Joe Rossignol:

A new video has surfaced of a 10-year-old child unlocking his mother's iPhone X with his face even though Face ID was set up with her face.

Update (2017-11-20): Rich Trouton:

Face ID is the most compelling security advance I have seen in a very long time. It’s game-changing not merely due to technology, but also thanks to design and implementation. Apple has created a new authentication modality.

Update (2017-11-21): Ashley Park (via Dan Masters):

FaceTec conducted an experiment with a “sleeping” iPhone X owner and placed numerous pizza toppings on their eyes, such as olives, mushrooms, and pepperoni, to easily hack into what Apple promoted as a “secure and private new way to unlock, authenticate, and pay.” As shown in the video, the iPhone opens right up as soon as it recognizes the toppings as the owner’s eyes.

Update (2017-11-29): Juli Clover:

Bkav reset Face ID on camera and then set it up anew with the demonstrator’s face. “Require Attention for Face ID” and “Attention Aware Features” were both shown to be enabled on the iPhone X. For those unaware, “Require Attention for Face ID” is meant to add an extra layer of security by requiring you to look at your iPhone to use Face ID, and it’s one of the features that’s supposed to prevent Face ID from unlocking with a mask, with a photograph, or when you’re looking away from your phone.

After activating Face ID, the Bkav demonstrator unlocks the iPhone X normally with his own face, and then unlocks it once again with the mask. The mask appears to be able to unlock the iPhone X right away, with no failed attempts and no learning, as Face ID was set up from scratch just before the test. The mask’s 2D infrared eyes also appear to fool the “Require Attention for Face ID” setting.

Update (2017-11-30): Sam Bingner:

I don’t know if it’s me or if everybody else just seems to have better luck… but FaceID is much less reliable and slower than TouchID was for me. FaceID is always slower, and fails quite often. Yes, I enter the code to “train” it when it fails. Constantly.

Update (2017-12-01): Joe Rossignol:

Apple’s current focus with Face ID is on single-user authentication, suggesting support for multiple faces won’t be added in the near future, according to an alleged email from the company’s software engineering chief Craig Federighi.

Update (2017-12-05): Ryan Jones:

Face ID is magic – clearly the future. But it still works less often than Touch ID, so far for me.

Touch ID ~98%

Face ID ~92%

Update (2017-12-13): Troy Hunt:

I’ve been gradually coming to this conclusion of my own free will, but Phil Schiller’s comments last week finally cemented it for me: Face ID stinks.

Update (2017-12-18): Chris Ogden (Hacker News):

For while Apple have said their facial recognition software on the iPhone X is top-notch and that the chances of somebody else being able to unlock your phone is - literally - ‘one in a million’, a woman called Yan has already proved that’s clearly not the case.

Hailing from Nanjing in China, Yan got her hands on an iPhone X, only to discover that her co-worker could easily unlock it with her face, too. Even after a major rejig of the configuration settings.

According to a report from Shanghaiist, Yan called Apple’s hotline to report the problem in the hopes of finding a solution, but was told, essentially, that what she was describing was impossible.

Update (2017-12-28): Samuel Axon:

iPhone X owners have found that Face ID isn’t available as an authentication method for the “Ask to Buy” feature, which allows parents to approve their kids’ iOS purchases and downloads. Instead, the parent (or any other “family organizer,” as Apple terms it) must enter their entire Apple account password to approve each individual purchase attempt.

Users are frustrated because equivalent functionality was available on Touch ID devices, and that functionality has been lost in the transition to the iPhone X.

Update (2018-01-12): Thom Holwerda:

After six weeks with the iPhone X:

- Face ID is so-so. Regularly doesn’t work. Would’ve preferred a print sensor on the back. Friends of mine have actually turned off passcode/Face ID entirely because of this.

- Occasional performance hiccups in Springboard and applications.

Update (2018-01-14): Jennifer Tilly:

I never believe when people say I look like my sisters. But Meg just picked up my IPhoneX and it facial-recognized her and opened right up!

2 Comments RSS · Twitter

Most of the Face ID takes here (and those I've seen elsewhere) focus on how secure it is or how easy it is to use compared to Touch ID. These are fine. What I wish I were seeing more of, though, is more discussion of this technology (and its normalization) mean for the future. A month or so ago, the Pinboard founder tweeted a link to his post on Hacker News ( and about the potential dangers of misusing face-readers should they become widespread. It concerns me, and I worry about what Apple is potentially getting us all into, and I also worry that the conversation about Face ID and its implications is dominated instead by, basically, gadget-talk about whether or not this thing is better than Touch ID.

"These are fine. What I wish I were seeing more of, though, is more discussion of this technology (and its normalization) mean for the future."

This is such a lost cause, y'know.

People voluntarily sign up for Facebook. People carry GPS monitoring devices with them at all times. People pay to put ambient microphones in their homes.

I mean, I hear you. I handle OpSec for our household. But 98%+ of people just don't care.

My favorite data point of this week: Roku, a consumer facing, friendly looking company, just issued their first earnings reports. They bragged in their conference call about how analysts shouldn't worry about how much people were or weren't streaming via their Smart TV licensing platform, because they were able to monetize content recognition when people weren't streaming - aka they were using an external HDMI input. They can brag because no one will shrug a shoulder. It's already normal.

Leave a Comment