After on-stage failure, Federighi tries to quiet fears about Face ID’s function and security

In its first big moment on stage during last week’s Apple Keynote, Face ID failed to unlock SVP Craig Federighi’s iPhone X, leading to all kinds of speculation that the new authentication system will be a disaster. Sitting down with Daring Fireball’s John Gruber, Federighi did his best to assuage those fears, saying the very public failure surprised him because usually the Face ID “just works,” and he’s certain that any fears over the functionality will “melt away” as soon as users have their hands on the iPhone X. “Honestly, we’re just all counting the days that customers can finally get their hands on these. Because I think just like with Touch ID, initially people thought oh, ‘Apple’s done something that’s totally not going to work and I’m not a believer and I’m not gonna use this feature,’” Federighi said. “Now everyone’s worried because they can’t imagine life without Touch ID. We’re going to see exactly the same thing with Face ID.”
Federighi got more specific with TechCrunch about exactly when Face ID will require a passcode. If a user hasn’t logged in with Face ID in 48 hours or just rebooted the device, the passcode will be required. Five failed attempts to validate using Face ID will also trigger a passcode request — which is what happened on stage during the Keynote demo debacle. You’ll also get a password request if if the iPhone X hasn’t been unlocked using FaceID in more than four hours and you haven’t used your passcode to unlock it in the previous 6.5 days. Apple will be releasing a more extensive white paper with more details about Face ID closer to the launch of the iPhone X, but it’s clear Face ID has to jump through some hoops that Touch ID didn’t, and in an email to a developer obtained by CNET, Federighi tried to work through some of those. He said sunglasses shouldn’t be a problem most of the time — since most don’t stop the infrared light used to map the face — but those with coating that blocks IR light could be a problem. Others are more concerned about who else could get into the iPhone X using their face, specifically if the device has been seized by thieves or police who can simply force a user to look into the device to unlock it. Federighi had a partial solution for that was well, claiming that the Face ID functionality can be disabled “if you grip the buttons on both sides of the phone when you hand it over.” This is the first we’ve heard of a killswitch for Face ID, but Federighi’s message didn’t specify how long a user has to hold down the buttons to make it work or how long this will disable Face ID. That being said, it’s not like people being held up or taken into police custody could prevent their fingerprint from being used to unlock their device either, so these problems aren’t entirely new for Face ID. [via MacRumors]

Latest News