Apple Outlines How Face ID Works in New Paper


Earlier this month, Apple announced Face ID, its newest biometric security detail. It will launch with the iPhone X in November, and it’s expected to trickle down to other devices in Apple’s lineup at some point in the future.

Apple recently published a paper detailing how Face ID works, and, in some cases, why it can fail at scanning a person’s face and unlocking the handset. The published paper covers the basics, as well as digs into further detail in some areas. Apple outlines why a user would need to input their PIN code, instead of using the facial recognition tool, which is similar in function to how it works with Touch ID:

  • 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.

While talking about Face ID on stage earlier this month, Apple discussed how secure the new feature is, saying that the probability that someone could unlock the phone with Face ID is 1 in 1,000,000 — which is compared to the 1 in 50,000 chances that someone could unlock the phone with Touch ID). The company also adds that in some cases, like dealing with twins or siblings that look familiar, could result in the ability to unlock the phone. What’s more, Apple says that kids “under the age of 13” maybe able to unlock the device, “because their distinct facial features may not have fully developed.”

The rest of the paper touches on how Apple Pay will work (similar to the Apple Watch, by double-pressing the side button on the iPhone), as well as a few other details. If you’ve been curious about Face ID in general, it might not be a bad idea to look through the paper. It’s linked below.

This published paper is just one security-related release today, as Apple also published a new consumer-friendly security landing site, which details Apple’s goals on privacy.

[via Apple]

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