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Facial recognition on the iPhone 8 will work better than any Android phone

Published Sep 5th, 2017 7:11PM EDT
iPhone 8 Vs Note 8
Image: Martin Hajek

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Samsung’s Galaxy Note 8 may have a lot of things going for it, but overall device security isn’t one of them. Earlier today, a video uploaded by developer Mel Tajon demonstrated that it was not only possible, but rather easy, for users to fool the device’s facial recognition feature with a simple photo of an authorized user. Of course, it goes without saying that this is a particularly worrisome work-around given that many smartphone users tend to keep sensitive personal and financial information on their devices.

Video of Tajon’s Note 8 experiment can be viewed below, and as you can tell, it’s far from a complicated process. Incidentally, Samsung’s Galaxy S8 is also vulnerable to the same type of work-around.

Given the Note 8’s glaring security flaw as it pertains to facial recognition, it’s only natural to wonder what this means for Apple’s upcoming iPhone 8. As we’ve detailed previously, Apple’s highly anticipated iPhone 8 will reportedly ditch the venerable Touch ID sensor and replace it with an advanced suite of facial recognition cameras that will allow users to unlock their device and even authorize Apple Pay transactions.

That said, do iPhone 8 users have anything to worry about? In a word, no.

The good news is that Apple’s facial recognition scheme will likely be far more advanced and sophisticated than what Samsung implemented on the Note 8 and the Galaxy S8.

From what we can gather, Apple’s facial recognition software will incorporate technology from Realface, an Israeli machine learning company with advanced facial recognition software that Apple acquired earlier this year. What differentiates Realface’s facial recognition technology from Samsung’s is that Realface’s software is able to create a 3D representation of a person’s face. In contrast, Samsung’s implementation on the Galaxy Note 8 and Galaxy S8 relies upon on a 2D map of an individual’s face, and thus makes it easier to fool with photos and video.

To this point, Realface’s website — which was taken down after the Apple acquisition — noted that it’s technology featured “anti-spoof face recognition.” What’s more, Realface boasted that the success rate of its facial recognition technology stands at 99.67%, a figure which is, believe it or not, a tad higher than what humans are capable of.

What’s more, and as we noted in a more detailed breakdown of Realface’s software capabilities, the iPhone 8’s facial recognition software will likely be sophisticated enough to “filter out photos, videos and even sculptures designed with the express purpose of tricking” it.

The following video (beginning at around the 13:50 mark) illustrates how even high quality photos and videos can’t fool Realface’s software.

Lastly, the iPhone 8 will also incorporate infrared cameras to further prevent unauthorized users from unlocking a device with photos or video.

Yoni Heisler Contributing Writer

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large with over 15 years of experience. A life long expert Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW.

When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.

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