The upcoming iPhone X will use Face ID, technology that unlocks your iPhone X by using infrared and visible light scans to uniquely identify your face. The company says it will work in a variety of conditions and is extremely secure. Though no one outside Apple has yet been able to confirm how well it works.
This brings up a lot of questions about Face ID. We'll work to get answers to you as you ponder whether you want to buy an iPhone X when it starts shipping November 3.
Face ID white paper and support document from Apple
What is Face ID?
Face ID a form of biometric authentication. Rather than a password (something you know) or a security dongle or authentication app (something you have), biometrics are something you are. Fingerprint recognition is also a biometric.
Instead of one or more fingerprints, as with Touch ID, Face ID relies on the unique characteristics of your face. Apple is betting that its technology can meet six separate hurdles:
- Initially scan your face accurately enough to recognize it later.
- Compare a new scan with the stored one with enough flexibility to recognize you nearly all the time.
- Scan your face in a wide variety of lighting conditions.
- Update your facial details as you age, change hairstyles, grow a mustache, change your eyebrows, get plastic surgery, and so forth to still recognize you.
- Let you wear hats, scarves, gloves, contact lenses, and sunglasses, and still be recognized.
- Not allow a similar-looking person, a photograph, a mask, or other techniques to unlock your phone.
If you’ve had trouble with Touch ID and your fingerprints over time, you might have concerns about whether scanning and recognizing a face is easier. It might be!
What devices use Face ID?
At this announcement, only the iPhone X is slated to include Face ID.
Does Face ID replace Touch ID?
For now, the hardware requirements for Face ID are only found in the upcoming iPhone X. All other new iPhone models and all existing ones will retain Touch ID. Apple might choose to retain Face ID as a premium differentiating feature, but based on the company’s previous patterns of high-end feature rollouts, it will likely be in both new iPhone models in late 2018, and then in the iPhone SE at some point thereafter. It would seemingly also be likely for future iPad Pro updates, but perhaps not until the second quarter of 2018 or even mid-year.
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