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Face ID rivals on Android? Apple’s Phil Schiller says ‘they all stink’

Published Dec 11th, 2017 8:51AM EST
Android vs. iPhone X
Image: Apple Inc.

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Face ID is the future of authentication, at least on the iPhone, starting with the iPhone X. But the TrueDepth camera is likely coming to other Apple products in the near future, including iPads and MacBooks. Many people will say that Apple did not invent facial recognition and the iPhone X isn’t the only device that can do it. We’ve had face unlock on Android for years, and Microsoft unveiled its own face recognition system for Windows computers. But are they really any good?

The iPhone X’s Face ID is above and beyond what’s available on Android. Apple’s marketing guru Phil Schiller did not mince words when comparing other face unlock solutions found on existing smartphones to the iPhone X’s Face ID. “They all stink,” he said in an interview with Dutch site Bright.

Face ID is one of the new iPhone features that shows Apple is still a leader in the industry. “Ultimately what we are doing is making privacy security even easier,” Schiller said. He explained that competing products that do offer facial recognition support do not work in all the ways Face ID does.

They don’t work in all the ways we need Face ID to work. We’re very aware that through the years the simple thing, this Home button, that started as the way you click to get to the Home screen, grew into doing so many things for us. We added Touch ID, it took you to the multitasking screen, paged Siri, activated Apple Pay. All through this one mechanical button.”

So for Face ID we needed the best way we know of to enable us to easily unlock our device with our face, in a protected way with the Secure Enclave, and support all these other things. We had to solve all of that. Other things that people have tried with face haven’t been anything like that. Face ID is a very unique implementation.

Now that the iPhone X is out, Android rivals are expected to copy Apple’s Face ID solution — but it’ll take a while until we see devices featuring front-facing 3D facial recognition cameras. The Galaxy S9, which launches soon, won’t be one of them.

Face ID is more secure and reliable than Touch ID, but it can be hacked with carefully created masks. And some children can unlock phones belonging to their parents or siblings, too. Comparatively, face unlock on Android can be hacked with simple photos, which is why it can’t be used to authenticate mobile payments.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.