Face ID: Everything you need to know!

Face ID on iPhone

Face ID is Apple’s newest biometric identity sensor and it’s only on the iPhone X right now. Here’s everything you need to know!

Face ID is a facial scanning system that Apple implemented into the iPhone X as a biometric identity replacement for Touch ID. Apple claims there is one-in-a-million chance that Face ID will unlock with another person’s face thanks to the use of seven different sensors attached to the front-facing camera. It will automatically scan and confirm your identity without you even having to press a button, which is good because Apple also got rid of the Home button in iPhone X.

What is Face ID

Face ID uses multiple neural networks that are built into the dual-core A11 bionic neural engine to process the facial recognition data.

It takes a mathematical model of your face and checks it against the original scan of your face that you first registered.

The information is stored on the A11 chip on your iPhone X and not sent to Apple’s servers, so your facial identity is kept private.

It uses Attention Awareness in order to work. That means, you have to be looking at your iPhone for it to scan, You can’t be asleep or looking away for it to unlock your iPhone.

What’s this TrueDepth camera all about?

The TrueDepth camera is the hub of Face ID. Similar to the way Touch ID uses focused sensors on the Home button that takes a high-resolution picture of your fingerprint, the TrueDepth camera uses depth mapping to get a detailed picture of all of the features of your face. The TrueDepth camera is made up of eight different parts, which when used together, allow for the depth needed for proper facial scanning. The TrueDepth camera uses:

  • 7PM camera
  • Infrared camera
  • Flood illuminator
  • Front camera dot projector (30K dots)
  • Proximity sensor
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Speaker
  • Microphone

How does Face ID know it’s really me?

Apple explained that the advanced scanning sensors in conjunction with the A11 bionic processor make it nigh-impossible for someone to spoof your facial scan. It doesn’t work with photographs. It doesn’t work while you’re asleep. It doesn’t even work with detailed silicon masks that look just like you. It works kinda like magic, only the effort that went in to perfecting facial recognition is anything but magic.

What if I grow a beard, wear glasses, or change over time?

Face ID uses 30,000 infrared dot scanners and pushes then through that neural network mentioned above. It doesn’t just do a quick image scan. It’s not like Faces in the Photos app. It’s much, much deeper.

It adapts to your facial changes over time. It learns your face. If you start wearing glasses, or cut your hair. It will still identify your face. If you gain or lose weight or grow old, it will still know it’s you.

If you wear a little or a lot of makeup, if you look like a completely different person when you wake up in the morning, it will still recognize the structure of your face, which doesn’t change whether you’re wearing makeup or not.

If you experience some complete facial change, like swelling or disfigurement due to an accident, or if the structure of your face changes due to facial reconstruction, you can re-scan your face for a new Face ID identification. These are more permanent changes, and not simple a matter of you looking different when you wake up in the morning.

How does Face ID work with identical twins?

It doesn’t. Apple noted in its demo of Face ID that if you have an “evil twin” (in other words, identical twin), you’re just going to have to use a passcode if you don’t want that twin to access your iPhone.

What about people of color? Did Apple finally get facial recognition right?

We don’t really know yet for sure how well it works. Apple did, however, included people of color in its video demonstration, so it’s clearly trying to let us know that all the different facial features have been taken into consideration, not just the typically-white ones. We’ll see in-practice if this actually works.

How is ‘Attention Awareness’ supposed to work for people with facial quirks?

Attention Awareness means you have to be able to somehow show the iPhone that you are aware of its scan by looking directly at it. This ensures that someone can’t just scan your face while you’re sleeping or looking away, unknowing that someone else has your iPhone. There are definitely people that won’t be able to perform the actions required for Attention Awareness.

Apple included the ability to disable Attention Awareness in the Accessibility settings. We don’t currently know who will be affected by Attention Awareness yet. We’ll learn more once the iPhone X gets into our hands. We’ll update you when we have a better idea.

Can more than one person register their face with Face ID?

Nope. Sorry. You and your spouse can’t use Face ID on the same iPhone right now. It only registers one face. If you want to allow someone else to have access to your iPhone X, you’ll just have to give them your passcode.

What does Face ID work with?

Face ID will definitely work with Apple Pay in participating retail stores and online. The same way you use Touch ID to pay for things at your local coffee shop of favorite online store, you can instead use Face ID.

Face ID also works with third-party apps that currently support Touch ID. From what Apple explained in its summary, Face ID code will simply replace Touch ID code. So all of your favorite Touch ID apps should also work with your facial imprint, too.

Any questions?

Do you have any questions about what Face ID is or how it works? Put them in the comments and we’ll help you out. We’ll also be building a comprehensive guide to setting up and using Face ID as soon as we get our hands on the iPhone X.

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