Apple's New Face ID Biometric System Works in the Dark and When Your Face is Obscured by Hats and Beards

Discussion in ' News Discussion' started by MacRumors, Sep 13, 2017.

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    In the new iPhone X, Face ID, a facial recognition system, replaces the Touch ID fingerprint sensor we've grown accustomed to since it was introduced in the iPhone 5s.

    Because Face ID is a new biometric system, there are a lot of questions about its accuracy and how it will work in various conditions, all of which Apple has answered both in the keynote and on its website.


    How Face ID Scans Your Face

    Face ID is enabled through a TrueDepth front-facing camera on the iPhone X, which has multiple components. A Dot Projector projects more than 30,000 invisible dots onto your face to map its structure.


    The dot map is then read by an infrared camera and the structure of your face is relayed to the A11 Bionic chip in the iPhone X and transformed into a mathematical model. The A11 chip then compares your facial structure to the facial scan stored in the iPhone X during the setup process.


    As with Touch ID, if there is a match between the two face scans, the iPhone X will unlock. From there, you can swipe upwards to get to the Home screen.

    Face ID in the Dark

    Face ID uses infrared to scan your face, so it works in low lighting conditions and in the dark. The TrueDepth camera also has what Apple calls a "Flood Illuminator," aka an infrared light that illuminates your face in the dark so the dot map and the infrared camera can do their jobs.

    Fooling Face ID

    First of all, Face ID can't be fooled by a photo because it takes a 3D facial scan to unlock a device. Face ID is also "attention aware," a feature Apple implemented for extra security.

    Face ID will only unlock your device when you look in the direction of the iPhone X with your eyes open, meaning Face ID only works when there's a live person in front of it. Attention aware is optional, though, and can be turned off if you choose. Most people will want to leave attention awareness on, but for users unable to focus their attention on the iPhone, turning it off will allow the iPhone X to unlock with just a facial scan.

    Face ID is also sensitive enough to tell the difference between you and someone who is wearing a mask of your face. Apple trained Face ID with hyperrealistic masks created by Hollywood studios, ensuring a mask of a person wouldn't be able to fool the Face ID system.


    According to Apple, Face ID is more secure than Touch ID because there are slimmer chances of a mismatch. There's a 1 in 50,000 chance someone will be able to unlock your iPhone with their fingerprint, but a 1 in 1,000,000 chance someone else's face will fool Face ID. That doesn't count for twins, though -- if you have an identical twin, that error rate increases.

    Touch ID locks a device after five failed attempts, but with Face ID, Apple is only allowing two failed attempts. After two incorrect scans, the iPhone X will lock and require your passcode to unlock again. You can also discreetly disable Face ID by pressing the side button and volume buttons at the same time. This will lock it and require a passcode to access your device.

    Face ID With Hats, Beards, Makeup, and Glasses

    Face ID works with hats, beards, glasses, scarves, and other accessories that partially obscure the face. According to Apple, this is because the A11 Bionic chip in the iPhone X uses machine learning and a neural engine to recognize changes in your appearance.

    It's also likely that Face ID, like other facial recognition systems, has a match threshold that's below 100 percent, so even with part of the face not visible, it recognizes the part that is visible.


    Face ID also adapts to changes in your appearance over time, so it will continue to recognize you as you grow a beard or grow your hair longer.

    Update: Apple software chief Craig Federighi has confirmed that Face ID will work with most sunglasses. The infrared light used by Face ID can penetrate all but the darkest sunglasses.

    Face ID When Unconscious or Sleeping

    If someone knocks you unconscious or attempts to unlock your iPhone X with your face while you're sleeping, it's not going to work.

    As mentioned above, you need to look at your iPhone for Face ID to grant access to your device.

    Face ID Privacy

    On iPhones with Touch ID, your fingerprint data is stored in a Secure Enclave on the device, and the same is true of Face ID. Your facial map is encrypted and kept in the Secure Enclave, with authentication happening entirely on your device. No Face ID data is uploaded to iCloud or sent to Apple.

    Multiple Faces in Face ID

    When using Touch ID, multiple fingerprints can be added to a device so more than one person can unlock it. That is not possible with Face ID. Face ID makes a map of a single face and that's the only face that can unlock the iPhone X. To add a new face, the existing face must be removed.

    Face ID at an Angle

    You don't need to hold the iPhone X right in front of your face for it to make a Face ID scan. On stage at the keynote event, it was shown held at a comfortable viewing angle and held flat downwards while making an Apple Pay payment at payment terminal.


    Face ID and Apple Pay

    Face ID replaces Touch ID when authenticating Apple Pay purchases. When checking out with Apple Pay, a glance at the iPhone X will authenticate a payment, and a double click on the side button of the device will confirm it.


    Face ID will also work in lieu of Touch ID for confirming iTunes payments, accessing secure apps, and more. All third-party apps that use Touch ID will also be able to use Face ID.

    Face ID Special Features

    With the "attention aware" feature, the iPhone X knows when you're looking at it. Face ID will display notifications and messages on the Lock screen when you look at the iPhone X, it will keep the screen lit, and it will automatically lower the volume of an alarm or ringer when it knows your attention is on the iPhone X's display.


    Face ID Neural Engine

    Face ID is powered by a two-core neural engine built into the A11 Bionic chip. It works in real time and can process more than 600 billion operations per second.

    To train the neural engine, Apple used more than a billion facial images and created several neural networks.

    Face ID Growing Pains

    Touch ID was slow and imperfect when it first launched, and Face ID may not be perfect right away either. iPhone X hands-on reports were generally impressed with the Face ID feature, but there were some reports of problems with the feature not working until the display was turned on and off.

    Apple will likely refine Face ID in software updates to further work out bugs, and future iPhones will undoubtedly come with more advanced Face ID systems that further improve the feature's functionality.

    Apple says Face ID is the future of how we will unlock our smartphones, suggesting Face ID will be the de facto Touch ID replacement in devices going forward.

    Article Link: Apple's New Face ID Biometric System Works in the Dark and When Your Face is Obscured by Hats and Beards
  2. roland.g macrumors 603


    Apr 11, 2005
  3. mcfly88 macrumors 6502

    Nov 3, 2012
  4. JGIGS, Sep 13, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017

    JGIGS macrumors 65816


    Jan 1, 2008
    Face ID is really intriguing but touch ID was so easy and convenient. I was a little shocked at how they said 1-50,000 could beat a fingerprint ID vs 1-1,000,000 with face recognition. I thought we all had unique fingerprints? Like snowflakes. :)

    I will say I still much rather face ID than an awkwardly placed rear touch ID.
  5. EdT macrumors 68000


    Mar 11, 2007
    Omaha, NE
    It failed at the demo. Even if there is a valid reason they need to get 3rd party sites to verify it really does work as quickly as possible.
  6. cableguy84 macrumors 65816


    Sep 7, 2015
    Sounds great, but why put the face scanning stuff inside the screen?
  7. M.PaulCezanne macrumors 6502a


    Mar 5, 2014
  8. 1Zach1 macrumors 65816


    Feb 8, 2008
    Northern Va
    Ah, too bad about only 1 face profile, I was hoping it would work like TouchID in that regard.
  9. Relentless Power macrumors Penryn

    Relentless Power

    Jul 12, 2016
    Obviously it does. Do you really think Apple would release a security feature that they didn't spend an immense amount of time protecting one's privacy and security over something they didn't have complete faith in?
  10. dewski macrumors 6502

    Aug 20, 2011
    I'll believe it when I see it. An incorrect scan once a week is enough of a convenience for me to never purchase.
  11. Appleaker, Sep 13, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017

    Appleaker macrumors 68020

    Jun 13, 2016
    That’s great but most people prefer will probably prefer Touch ID (if it works for them) due to the speed of the overall system. But this could be easy to get used to I suppose.
  12. jmh600cbr macrumors 6502a


    Feb 14, 2012
    great write up, explains a lot more than apple did
  13. Packers1958 macrumors 65816

    Apr 16, 2017
    South Dakota
    I doubt this is a big issue, but in some of the demo videos after the show, they showed someone pointing the phone at the face of the owner and unlocking the phone. I guess a thief could steal your phone, point it at your face for a fraction of a second and take off with your unlocked phone.
  14. fguzman macrumors newbie

    Jul 27, 2015
  15. JPLC, Sep 13, 2017
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2017

    JPLC macrumors 6502

    Dec 20, 2011
    Sure, Face ID cant be fooled but still, it doesnt look natural or logical at all. When picking up my iPhone with my thumb on my home buiten, I'm there. No swipe, no looking into the camera. Also with Face ID, using one hand and my thumb for swiping up, it is going to be painfull for me because my thumbs joint isn't that new and flex anymore.

    - Edit -
    An example that wont work for me: When I'm standing and I look at my phone (at a concert or other crowded places) to peek for messages, missed calls or notifications. Pretty sure that from a lower hip-to-face angle it wont work as a Face ID scan.
  16. OldSchoolMacGuy Suspended


    Jul 10, 2008
    It continually updates the face map so it always recognizes you.

    Imagine someone seeing a picture of you with and without a beard. Big difference. But if you take a picture each day or even many times a day as that beard grows, the change is far less drastic and the difference isn't much.

    There are a LOT of people crying about this feature without ever using it. People cried about Touch ID too because they had the chance to use it. I recommend trying it before you whine about it.
  17. Rob_2811 macrumors 68020

    Mar 18, 2016
    United Kingdom
    Both Wired and Techradar have said it is very hit and miss from what they saw in the hands on area.

    David Pierce (Wired) said he thinks people will just go back to passcodes
  18. Packers1958 macrumors 65816

    Apr 16, 2017
    South Dakota
    I brought that up on another thread and told that it will still unlock even if wearing sunglasses. I guess some computers already have IR facial recognition, and the computer unlocks even when wearing sunglasses.
  19. chr1s60 macrumors 68000


    Jul 24, 2007
    I immediately wondered about sunglasses which will impact almost everyone at some point. It would be kind of annoying to need to take your glasses off every time you need in your phone outside. Then again, there is always the passcode as a backup I suppose, but just a minor annoyance that isn't there with Touch ID.

    Touch ID isn't perfect, but touch ID today is much better than it was when initially released. I am assuming it will be the same with facial recognition. It will be much better 2-3 years from now and likely spotty for now.
  20. Futhark macrumors 65816


    Jun 12, 2011
    Northern Ireland
    It didn’t fail it hadn’t been setup properly for the demo. Every new reboot you have to put in your passcode first before touchID or faceID will work.
  21. EugW macrumors 603


    Jun 18, 2017
    This article almost sounds like someone cut and paste (or paraphrased) some Apple press info.

    Nope. That wasn't the issue. It failed twice, which is the limit for Face ID apparently, according to updated information posted today.

    Update: Face ID is disabled after two unsuccessful attempts, requiring the user to enter the device passcode in order to be re-enabled, as described in Apple's developer beta documentation, implying that Federighi was unable to authenticate the first device.
  22. Rob_2811 macrumors 68020

    Mar 18, 2016
    United Kingdom
    It failed several times when being demoed for the press.
  23. ObsidianKt macrumors newbie

    Aug 21, 2008
    Do Apple's "mask tests" weird anyone else out? If someone is wearing a mask of my face, I think I won't be so concerned about my phone. I'm just going to be praying it's not a skin mask.
  24. Sasparilla macrumors 65816

    Jul 6, 2012
    If they had the fingerprint reader embedded in the display (like the original plan) it would have been a better user experience. 1 step for Apple Pay with fingerprint scanner, not 2 (Authentication then power button twice) is the perfect example. JMHO...

    This will get alot of people as a get through, but Apple, please don't stop getting the fingerprint scanner working through the display for next years iPhones.
  25. Packers1958 macrumors 65816

    Apr 16, 2017
    South Dakota
    Entering a passcode all the time would be a pain. They need to implement unlock like android does. You can set locations where the phone remains unlocked all the time. So if you are at home, the phone will not lock if you designate that location.
  26. Futhark macrumors 65816


    Jun 12, 2011
    Northern Ireland
    Is there an article about this as I haven’t heard about it?

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