March 21, 2018

How Apple's Face ID facial recognition works

28 September 2017, 12:37 | Denise Dawson

Mobile Image Source Martin Hajek

Mobile								Image Source Martin Hajek

It's no big secret that Apple took quite a few gambles (for a change) with the radical new design of the iPhone X, which loses the physical home button and fingerprint reader, gaining an incredibly complex facial recognition mechanism and a handsome fa├žade that's nearly all screen. The newly released Apple document, however, paints things a little differently - saying that siblings might also be able to trick the system into a false positive.

First, a dot projector projects over 30,000 invisible dots of infrared light onto your face, which is read by an infrared camera and used to create a 3D image, or depth map. Cooper Levenson security expert and attorney Peter Fu worries that people will take Apple's assurances on the security of Face ID to mean there's no risk of some type of hack. Simultaneously squeeze the iPhone X's power button and either volume button for two seconds, and it will temporarily disable Face ID by turning the phone off. The numeric representation of users' fingerprints were stored in the secure element of the iPhone's processor, and the Face ID data is stored in the exact same place. Other apps "can't access Face ID or the data associated with the enrolled face", the company said in its security white paper. Still, Apple assures the probability that a random person in a population could unlock your phone using Face ID is somewhere around 1 in a million, or 20 times more secure than the previous fingerprint sensor. The company claims the data never leaves the device and isn't ever sent to Apple.

To use Face ID with Apple Pay purchases, users will have to confirm intent to pay by double-clicking the side button, like on the Apple Watch.

With Face ID, you can unlock your iPhone X by simply raising it up to your face or tapping the screen.

Here we go again.

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The system will work indoors, outdoors, and "even in total darkness", Apple wrote.

Every time you wake the iPhone X, it looks for your face. And the company also says it's trained a neural network dedicated to spotting spoofs - such as masks - though no additional information is provided. "Only in the case that you wish to provide Face ID diagnostic data to AppleCare for support will this information be transferred from your device".

"Face ID data doesn't leave your device, and is never backed up to iCloud or anywhere else".

The iPhone X does allow third-party apps to let you sign in via Face ID, but these outside developers only receive notifications from Apple that you've been authenticated or not.

The tenth anniversary iPhone X starts at $999 for 64GB capacity or $1,149 for 256GB and comes in space gray or silver.

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