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What Is Apple Face ID on iPhone X and How Does It Work?

Here's What You Need to Know About Apple's Face ID on the iPhone X

Here's What You Need to Know About Apple's Face ID on the iPhone X
Image Source: Apple

After months of speculation, on Sept. 12, Apple finally gave us the technology we've been waiting on for years: facial recognition. That's right, the new iPhone X edition will have machine-learning-driven Face ID, giving your phone the ability to recognize your face and your face the ability to open your phone — and of course, completely doing away with the "home" button and the Touch ID feature.

Apple says that Face ID will be infinitely more secure than Touch ID; outside of any "evil twins" or genetic relatives, there's only a one in 1,000,000 chance that anyone outside of the owner would be able to unlock the phone with their face. How exactly did they do this? Well, there are a couple things going on here:

  • The iPhone X comes fully locked and loaded with the TrueDepth camera system: It's made up of an infared camera, flood illuminator, proximity sensor, ambient light sensor, speaker, microphone, front camera, and dot projector. Combined, the TrueDepth system creates IR dots that are pushed through neural networks to create mathematical models, which are run through in order to unlock the phone. In other words, it's light years ahead of the tech that stood behind the Touch ID mechanism.
  • Touch ID can recognize you under any circumstance: The TrueDepth system (specifically, the flood illuminator) shoots light at your face so you can be recognized at any time, with any hairstyle, in any light — no matter what you're wearing. Thanks to the A11 Bionic neural engine, your phone will now learn your face, instead of your passcode or fingerprint.
  • Face data is pretty damn secure: Despite some early concerns, your face data will be protected by secure enclave and is processed completely within the iPhone X — which means you're not sending any of this data to external servers, and it all lives in the phone that you own.
  • You need to be paying attention to the phone in order to unlock it: So if you were concerned about it just randomly unlocking and sharing your info with the world — don't be. The owner needs to look directly at it and be paying full attention in order for it to unlock.
  • Face ID works with Apple Pay: In the checkout line, you just need to look down at your phone to open it before scanning it to pay for that splurge purchase you picked up at lunch.
  • Most importantly, Animoji! The new technology enables these live-action emoji to contain even your most intricate expressions.

Ahead, check out Face ID in action and explore the features that will finally be part of our everyday lives in just a few short weeks. The iPhone X will enter presale on Oct. 27 and is expected to ship on Nov. 3.

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