There are a lot of unanswered questions about Face ID which have cropped up in the days since the iPhone X was announced. Apple has now published a detailed white paper and new support page on its website to explain how security works in the age of facial recognition.
According to Apple, the probability of a random person looking at the iPhone X and unlocking it is 1 in 1000000, as opposed to Touch ID’s 1 in 50000. However, it notes that these numbers don’t apply in the case of twins and siblings that look like the owner. This exception also applies to children under the age of 13 since their facial features may not be fully developed.
Apple doesn’t have a solution to these conundrums, so it’s just asking people who might be concerned about this to use a passcode instead of Face ID. Another potential issue which many have raised is related to theft. A company official actually answered these questions before and his advice is again repeated here.
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If faced with a mugging, a user can quickly press the side and either volume button simultaneously to trigger Emergency SOS and disable Face ID. This isn’t fool-proof though, since a person would need to have enough time and presence of mind to do so.
There are various other ways Face ID will get disabled such as restarting the iPhone X, not unlocking it for 48 hours, and 5 unsuccessful attempts to match a face. Apple dove deep into the technology powering the feature, assuaging privacy concerns by stating that the system purposely generates an incomplete picture.
In the event that someone hacks Face ID and extracts its data, they won’t be able to completely reconstruct a person’s face. All this information is stored within the iPhone X and routinely discarded. If the system doesn’t recognize an owner, it’ll automatically capture another photo and update its records.