On top of a brand new design (finally), iPhone X also brings a brand new feature that has never been used before on an iPhone – Face ID facial recognition system. The iPhone X features a new edge-to-edge screen, which means that Apple has to remove its iconic home button, as well as Touch ID fingerprint sensor. Apple has replaced it with a new facial recognition system that they say is “a powerful and secure authentication system”.
But just how powerful and secure is the Cupertino company’s brand new Face ID biometric sensor? Apple has just published a six-pages long white paper called “Face ID security”, that explains how Face ID works, how safe it is, as well as the issues it may have for users because let’s face it, nothing is perfect.
Remember how Face ID failed in Apple’s demonstration during the launch of the iPhone X? Apple says that it is a feature, not a flaw. The company explains that there were numerous people handling the demo unit, and Face ID were trying to authenticate those faces. After several failed attempts, it forces the user to unlock with a passcode. According to the paper, the instances that may trigger the need of a passcode instead of Face ID include:
- The device has just been turned on or restarted.
- The device hasn’t been unlocked for more than 48 hours.
- The passcode hasn’t been used to unlock the device in the last 156 hours (six and a half days) and Face ID has not unlocked the device in the last 4 hours.
- The device has received a remote lock command.
- After five unsuccessful attempts to match a face.
- After initiating power off/Emergency SOS by pressing and holding either volume button and the side button simultaneously for 2 seconds.
As for how secure Face ID is, Apple says that the probability that a random person could unlock your phone via Face ID is 1 in 1,000,000 vs. 1 in 50,000 for Touch ID. Of course, this does not include false match for twins and siblings that look like you, as well as for children under the age of 13.
Making purchases using Face ID is also a little different compared to Touch ID. You will need to conform your intent to pay by double-clicking the side button before you can authenticate using Face ID. This will prevent any unwanted purchases made via accidental touch.
Check out Apple for the full report.