During Apple’s special media event this week, Apple executives spent a considerable amount of time touting the iPhone X’s new Face ID feature. Whereas Touch ID relied upon the unique characteristics of one’s fingerprint for authentication purposes, Face ID, as the name implies, relies upon the unique characteristics of one’s face.
Now because Touch ID worked incredibly well, and because Face ID is a new and untested feature, there have been a lot of questions from prospective users about how reliable Face ID is. Just yesterday, Senator Al Franken penned a letter to Tim Cook asking if we can expect the feature to work seamlessly with different groups of people across gender and race. There have also been questions regarding Face ID’s efficacy when a user, say, grows out a beard or is wearing a hat.
From what we’ve seen thus far, Apple is extremely confident that Face ID will work under almost any condition. Indeed, Apple explained during this week’s keynote presentation how the technology will be able to work seamlessly even in the dark.
Providing even more insight on the matter, MacRumors relays that Keith Krimbel recently emailed Craig Federighi and asked him if we can expect Face ID to work when wearing sunglasses. Krimbel also asked how a thief might be prevented from using Face ID to unlock the phone of his or her victim.
As to the first question, Federighi explained that Face ID should work with “most” sunglasses.
“Most sunglasses let through enough IR light that Face ID can see your eyes even when the glasses appear to be opaque,” Federighi explained. “It’s really amazing!”
And as to the second question, Federighi explained:
“There are two mitigations: if you don’t stare at the phone, it won’t unlock. Also, if you grip the buttons on both sides of the phone when you hand it over, it will temporarily disable Face ID.”
Early impressions of the iPhone X’s Face ID feature have been mostly positive, but we’ll have to see what everyday users think of it once it begins shipping later this year.