Doubts and Speculation Surround Apple's Onstage Face ID 'Fail' During iPhone X Keynote [Updated]

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

  1. MacRumors macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001

    Yesterday at a media event held in Apple Park, Apple announced its much-anticipated all-screen 5.8-inch iPhone X, which features a next-generation facial authentication system called Face ID for unlocking the smartphone in lieu of a home button with Touch ID.

    During the keynote at the Steve Jobs Theater, Apple software engineering chief Craig Federighi took to the stage to demo Face ID. However, much to his chagrin, the facial recognition technology appeared to fail at his first attempt to unlock the iPhone X, forcing Federighi to switch to a backup device to get the demo moving.


    Some observers have leapt on the moment as evidence that Face ID is unreliable or a yet-to-be-perfected technology that's unfit to replace Touch ID fingerprint authentication. Vice News even went so far as to link the onstage incident to a sudden drop in Apple's share price. Since the demo aired, however, several competing theories have been put forward to explain the apparent "failure".

    One theory is that Apple has adopted the same reboot security measure on the iPhone X that is found on iPhones with Touch ID, and this is what stalled Federighi's Face ID demo. The moment when he tries to unlock the iPhone X with his face, a closer look at the presentation screen reveals the words "Your passcode is required to enable Face ID". As several contributors on Quora have pointed out, a similar message is seen when an iPhone with Touch ID is first switched on, or if the phone hasn't been used in the last 48 hours.

    This suggests someone forgot to enter the passcode on Federighi's iPhone X after a reboot. But if that were the case, the message likely should have stated, "Face ID requires your passcode when iPhone restarts", which more accurately reflects the equivalent message Touch ID phones display after a reboot. Some have argued that Face ID wasn't even set up on the device and the failure lies with Federighi, since he made no mention of this during the demo, but we don't know for sure.

    Another theory put forward is that several unsuccessful attempts had already been made to unlock the device prior to the onstage demo, since Federighi only tries to authenticate Face ID twice before the passcode screen appears, whereas Touch ID takes five consecutive failed attempts before requiring a passcode. It's possible, but unlikely, and doesn't really explain the two failed tries witnessed by the audience.

    An alternative, and more concerning explanation, is that Face ID simply failed to recognize the Apple executive, suggesting the feature has accuracy issues that the company is still working to resolve. Indeed, while Face ID was generally lauded by the media during hands-on iPhone X demonstrations after the keynote, at least one journalist reported "plenty of missed unlocks", and even problems activating Face ID that were only resolved after repeatedly turning the display off and on again, which they called "a little worrying". A similar issue may have befallen Federighi on stage.

    Apple claims Face ID can recognize a user's face under a variety of conditions and in poor light, despite everyday changes in appearance, such as applied make-up or beard growth. It is also said to boast a mismatch error rate of 1 in 1,000,000, compared to 1 in 50,000 for Touch ID, thanks to multiple neural networks built into the iPhone X's dual-core A11 bionic neural engine. With the iPhone X officially up for pre-order on October 27, the proof of the pudding will be in the eating.

    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.

    Article Link: Doubts and Speculation Surround Apple's Onstage Face ID 'Fail' During iPhone X Keynote [Updated]
  2. Appleaker macrumors 68000

    Jun 13, 2016
    I knew when watching that it would be a massive area for doubt and speculation. It is either that it had previously detected a face when setting up the demo units or it just didn’t work. Personally I think it had already been locked by other faces. Either way I hope the months of doubt encourages them to work on embedded Touch ID. To be fair, he did do it several times on the other unit to prove it worked.
  3. Derekeys macrumors regular

    Sep 17, 2012
    Philadelphia, PA
    I truly believe it was the second explanation. Rebooted with no passcode punched in.

    That being said, I'm having some serious doubts that FaceID will be better than TouchID.

    I will be waiting for some solid reviews on this one.
  4. iapplelove macrumors 68040


    Nov 22, 2011
    East Coast USA
    TouchID is one of my favorite features on my iPhone. I get the idea of exploring new safety and security features...but they should have incorporated both imo.

    They just couldn't, and if they manufacture Touch ID into the next button less iPhone well the X will be the biggest fail imo.

    And in the demo the phone was rebooted, that's all.
  5. Sunny1990 Suspended


    Feb 13, 2015
    Touch id was better and reliable. Hope it makes in next iPhone under the display.
  6. RCS31 macrumors regular

    Jun 28, 2013
    Well if one phone supposedly "failed" then why did the backup phone not have a single hiccup? It worked flawlessly.
  7. levitynyc macrumors 65816

    Aug 19, 2006
  8. bennyf macrumors regular


    Mar 29, 2011
    I see people site the 1 in 1e6 as the "mismatch" rate but are confusing two different things. That number is the odds that someone who isn't you will be recognized by your phone, not the frequency of it failing to recognize you. The latter is presumably higher.
  9. b3ats macrumors member

    Aug 27, 2012
    "It is also said to boast a mismatch error rate of 1 in 1,000,000, compared to 1 in 50,000 for Touch ID"

    Unless you're an identical twin, in which case they told you not to bother using it at all.
  10. Menopause macrumors 6502a


    Feb 26, 2011
  11. Darryl.Jenks macrumors regular


    Sep 29, 2014
  12. Cinetagonist macrumors newbie


    Oct 27, 2016
    Maybe author isn't an iOS user because that message appears if you don't use your iphone for 5 hours — Touch ID (and Face ID) tokens are zeroed after five hours in non-use state and you have to enter passcode to reenable the security feature. I bet that was the case on stage.
  13. Santabean2000 macrumors 68000


    Nov 20, 2007
    That was THE moment of the night that need to be flawless. And it failed.

    "You had ONE JOB!", "ONE JOB!!" "Aaaarrrrgh!"
  14. JM macrumors 6502a


    Nov 23, 2014
    I hope it's three. Nothing like a good gate to occupy the news :D
  15. archvile macrumors regular


    Oct 27, 2007
    My money is on whoever staged the devices on the kiosk was inadvertently tripping Face ID when moving the devices around and checking everything. Unbeknownst to him/her, this tripped the lockout after too many failed attempts.

    Either that or the device being a pre-prod unit still has some bugs and did a random reboot unknowingly, until Craig picked it up and it wanted the passcode.

    The Face ID TECHNOLOGY didn't fail once.
  16. bennyf macrumors regular


    Mar 29, 2011
    Gates' handling of that always impresses me.
  17. gsmornot macrumors 68030


    Sep 29, 2014
    I'm sure it will be worked out but it made me second guess the move to face-id versus touch-id.
  18. solarguy17 macrumors 6502a

    Sep 10, 2007
    My main concern is how slow it looked to be in comparision to TouchID. That being said TouchID is MUCH quicker now then when it first launched and is much more accurate. So I expect FaceID to get better over time.

    Also, I they mention beard growth, what about beard shave?
    I let my goatee grow out for a couple of weeks before shaving, using its 1/2" long when I shave it down to 1/8". Will it recognize that change?

    Also how creepy is the face mask room?
  19. JM macrumors 6502a


    Nov 23, 2014
    Oh... And what happened to the term FUD? The title should definitely have FUD in it.
  20. Appleaker macrumors 68000

    Jun 13, 2016
    That seems like the case, but most people will think it’s just unreliable. I think it’s a good thing if it encourages embedded Touch ID in the future.
  21. sshambles macrumors 6502a


    Oct 19, 2005
    I went into this being skeptical saying convince me; by the end I was convinced. They've done a great job, this seems to be a minor hiccup and as was stated, the second worked flawlessly so no issues.
  22. carlsson macrumors regular


    Jul 18, 2001
    The iPhone was definitely just rebooted. Very amateurish, but most logical in all aspects.
  23. iReality85 macrumors 6502a

    Apr 29, 2008
    Albany, NY
    I'll give it a pass, as sometimes demos have issues. I think Craig handled it pretty well too, not really missing his step and simply continuing on. Besides, it was reassuring to see that you can still unlock your phone in the event FaceID misreads, something that I'm sure was on the minds of many viewers.
  24. iamtheonlyone4ever macrumors regular


    May 27, 2016
    what iOS version he had installed on that device, the iOS 11 gm beta or iOS 10
    well using a beta might also explain the failure, probably a bug
  25. AcesHigh87 macrumors 6502a


    Jan 11, 2009
    New Brunswick, Canada
    Do you have proof of this claim? I go to bed and don't touch my phone for 6+ hours and Touch ID still works perfectly fine when I get up. The only time I need to enter my passcode is when my phone is restarted or my hands are particularly sweaty / dirty.

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