Apple’s iPhone X is here, and with it comes a new controversial features: Face ID. While the Sept. 12 keynote at the Steve Jobs Theater touched on all the basics — like how users will unlock an iPhone without Touch ID — it still left a lot of questions unanswered about the facial-recognition technology.
Like, couldn’t a thief (or a police officer) just snatch the phone out of our hands and unlock it by pointing it at our shocked mugs? Thankfully, two days after the big reveal, Apple Senior VP Craig Federighi is here with some answers.
Keith Krimbel, the CEO of Yoke Remote, emailed the executive directly about Face ID. He wanted to know if the tech would work even if the user is wearing sunglasses, and what would happen in the aforementioned robbery scenario.
“What will prevent a thief from taking my phone, pointing it at my face, and running,” asked Krimbel in a Sept. 14 email.
Federighi, it appears, was ready for this very question.
“There are two mitigations: if you don’t stare at the phone, it won’t unlock,” he replied. “Also, if you grip the buttons on both sides of the phone when you hand it over, it will temporarily disable FaceID.”
This appears to be the latest iteration of a forthcoming iOS 11 security measure for Touch ID wherein pressing the Home button five times in rapid succession disables that particular biometric and requires a password to unlock.
When it comes to the question of Face ID working with sunglasses, Federighi was less cut and dry — saying it will work “with most, but not all.”
“Most sunglasses let through enough IR light that FaceID can see your eyes even when the glasses appear to be opaque,” he wrote. “It’s really amazing!”
So there you have it: Apple says you have to stare at Face ID for it to work, and you can disable it with a grip. Time will tell what, for Apple, constitutes a “stare.” Also, wearing sunglasses could be a problem if you depend on Face ID — sorry prescription sunglass wearers!
Expect many more questions about Face ID to emerge as the technology gets out of Cupertino and into the hands of millions. Hopefully, going forward Apple with be as forthcoming with answers as Federighi was this week.