IPhone X Face ID Security Paper: 6 Things To Know About Feature

Nichole Vega
September 28, 2017

Apple was eventually forced to scrap its Touch ID fingerprint scanner for the X because it was hard to incorporate into the new design. Now, Apple has released the document with detailed information on the facial recognition technology. A 3D infrared light source on the front of the iPhone X sends out as many as 30,000 tiny beams that, together, create a 3D map of the user's face.

It didn't during Apple's September 12 event - at least initially, when senior vice president Craig Federighi tried and failed to demonstrate Face ID for the crowd before switching phones.

Oh, and also, Face ID might not work as well for kids.

You probably have nothing to worry about if you hurry and pre-order the unusually compact 5.8-inch iOS device early October 27 morning, but if you don't do that, a long wait could be ahead, extending through the holiday season or even 2018.

"The probability that a random person in the population could look at your iPhone X and unlock it using Face ID is approximately 1 in 1,000,000 (versus 1 in 50,000 for Touch ID)[.] The probability of a false match is different for twins and siblings that look like you as well as among children under the age of 13, because their distinct facial features may not have fully developed". It even recommends reverting to the outdated passcode for anyone concerned about these limitations. That data, along with a 2D infrared image, are transferred to the Secure Enclave. The numeric representation of users' fingerprints were stored in the secure element of the iPhone's processor, and the Face ID data is stored in the exact same place. In a white paper released today, Apple assures that the "facial matching is performed within the secure enclave using neural networks trained specifically for that objective", which means data never leaves the user data. And the company also says it's trained a neural network dedicated to spotting spoofs - such as masks - though no additional information is provided. If it's a close enough match, Face ID may still save and use this model too.

But if you undergo a sudden changes in appearance - like shaving a beard, for instance - the phone will only add the new image to its library if you follow a failed Face ID attempt by immediately entering your passcode.

If you're still anxious about Face ID, you can read Apple's entire security guide at this link.

How does Face ID work? Still, it's a lot of reading and a reminder of all the information we're entrusting to Apple and its philosophies on data protection.

The tenth anniversary iPhone X starts at $999 for 64GB capacity or $1,149 for 256GB and comes in space gray or silver.

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