With Apple’s newest iPhone, you’ll use your face – not your fingerprint – to unlock your phone.
Given how much important stuff we all carry on our smartphones, that makes it really important that the new device, dubbed the iPhone X, can distinguish your face not only from someone else’s, but from a copy.
The iPhone X doesn’t have a home button like past iPhones, and so it doesn’t have a fingerprint sensor either. IPhone X owners are supposed to be able to unlock their phones using the device’s new facial-recognition system, called “Face ID,” by simply holding their phones up to their faces. The system uses a variety of sensors to identify individuals.
Apple worked hard to make sure the iPhone X’s facial recognition system, which it calls “Face ID,” isn’t fooled easily, Phil Schiller, the company’s head of worldwide marketing, told the crowd on Tuesday at the Steve Jobs Theater during the Apple’s fall-product event.
The company worked to make sure Face ID wouldn’t unlock a phone in response to a simple photograph of its owner. But the company also wanted to make sure Face ID wouldn’t be fooled by three-dimensional models either. So Apple worked with professional mask makers in Hollywood to ensure that its tech couldn’t be fooled by synthetic faces.
Thanks to this, Schiller said, the new tech is more secure than previous protections. Apple estimates there’s a one in one million chance a random person’s face would fool Face ID and unlock a user’s phone. By comparison, the company estimates there’s a one in 50,000 chance that a random user could fool Touch ID, the fingerprint sensor built into Apple phones since the iPhone 5s.
Like Apple, other smartphone makers have started to use technologies other than fingerprint sensors to unlock phones. Most notably, Samsung’s Galaxy S8 comes with an iris-recognition system. But researchers have shown that system can be fooled by photographs.