FaceID on the iPhone X


Another Summer has gone by and pumpkin flavored coffee is back on the menu at your favorite coffee spot. Holiday commercials are in full swing and oh yeah, a new iPhone is out. Actually, two new iPhone models are available but let’s talk about the iPhone X. Specifically lets discuss the shiny new addition: FaceID.


By now if you are an iPhone user, you are well acquainted with TouchID. You use it to unlock your phone, purchase apps from the AppStore, check your bank account, and even order food. It’s intuitive, convenient, and in true Apple fashion, it’s on it’s way out. The iPhone X is Apple’s “early” look at their next generation iteration of the iPhone and with it, their new security feature; FaceID.

Before we delve into FaceID, however, let’s have a quick primer on how TouchID works. Essentially, TouchID takes a bunch of tiny snapshots of your fingerprints. It takes these snapshots in sections. Because it takes these in sections and not as a whole, it leaves TouchID susceptible to spoofing. If another person has a similar enough fingerprint section, they can get right in. Apple claims a 1 in 50,000 chance of this occurring.

When you first set up FaceID, your phone takes a snapshot of your face. FaceID starts with that one image of your face but continues to build upon this image each time you look at your phone using over 30,000 invisible dot projectors. The goal is to build a map of your face so that your phone can recognize you whether you’ve gained or lost weight, changed your hairstyle, or started wearing glasses, and since the dot projectors use IR, FaceID should work in pitch darkness.

FaceID only works if your eyes are open, and you cannot look away. Apple claims a 1 in a million chance of a spoof using FaceID. This new feature does bring certain challenges during the fall and winter where many of us wear scarves and caps to cover our faces. Identical twins can also pose a problem for FaceID. As with TouchID, your FaceID biometric data does not get sent over to Apple but instead lives locally and is stored securely on your device. While FaceID is an interesting concept and one that I believe all phone manufacturers will continue to iterate upon, I am personally going to be sticking with TouchID; can’t beat ordering GrubHub with your finger!


- Gihuber Then