Apple iPhone X: How Face ID works, how to set it up and more

Apple’s latest iPhone X uses facial recognition system called Face ID to unlock the phone and even sign into the apps. Here’s everything you need to know about Apple’s new Face ID technology.

| Updated on: Nov 05 2017, 11:56 IST
A man tries out the Animoji feature on an iPhone X during its launch at the Apple store in Singapore. REUTERS/Edgar Su
A man tries out the Animoji feature on an iPhone X during its launch at the Apple store in Singapore. REUTERS/Edgar Su (REUTERS)
A man tries out the Animoji feature on an iPhone X during its launch at the Apple store in Singapore. REUTERS/Edgar Su
A man tries out the Animoji feature on an iPhone X during its launch at the Apple store in Singapore. REUTERS/Edgar Su (REUTERS)

The much-awaited iPhone X is finally here. The smartphone that marks 10th anniversary of the iPhone comes with unique design, edge-to-edge screen and customised version of iOS. The most critical change, however, is the inclusion of Face ID, which replaces the fingerprint scanner-based Touch ID.

So, you might be wondering how does one get used to Face ID? How does it work? Is it convenient and safe? Well, we have been using the iPhone X for last few days here's how Apple's futuristic Face ID works.

What's Face ID?

Let's begin with a very basic question. After all, what is Face ID? Well, it's essentially a new technique of authenticating user profile to log into the smartphone. While Touch ID scanned your fingerprint, Face ID, as the name implies, scans your face in 360-degree for a 3D map.

Technology behind Face ID

Apple has a dedicated setup of sensors, called TrueDepth camera, which facilitate Face ID. These sensors including infrared camera, dot projector, front camera and flood illuminator, are placed on the front-notch on the iPhone X. The TrueDepth camera uses infrared wavelength (invisible to the naked eye) to accurately capture your facial details. This allows the camera to unlock your phone even in low light and dark conditions.

"The TrueDepth camera captures accurate face data by projecting and analyzing over 30,000 invisible dots to create a depth map of your face and also captures an infrared image of your face," Apple explains on its website.

"A portion of the A11 Bionic chip's neural engine — protected within the Secure Enclave — transforms the depth map and infrared image into a mathematical representation and compares that representation to the enrolled facial data."

How to Set up Face ID?

Setting up Face ID on the iPhone X is a bit awkward. Before beginning the setup, ensure the front camera lens isn't covered or there's any obstruction between your face and the front camera. The distance between the phone and your face ideally should be about a feet, though Apple says Face ID works best when the device is about an arm's length or closer.

Step 1: To get started, go to Settings > Face ID & Passcode (Ensure you've already created a passcode for the phone or create one)

Step 2: Tap Set Up Face ID and place the phone in front of your face. You will see a circular frame on the screen.

Step 3: Move/adjust your position to fit in that circular frame.

Step 4: Slowly move your head in clockwise direction.

Step 5: Repeat the process for the final verification. Once the set up is complete, tap Done.

What things can you do with Face ID?

Besides logging into your iPhone X, you can Face ID to authenticate downloads on iTunes and App Store, pretty much everything that Touch ID does. You can also use Face ID to autofill usernames and passwords for compatible websites in Safari. You can also sign in to app using this feature. Face ID is also compatible with Apple Pay, though this feature is not available in India.

Unlock your phone with just a glance.
Unlock your phone with just a glance. (Apple)
image caption
Unlock your phone with just a glance. (Apple)

Face ID and user privacy

Apple gives a lot of importance to user privacy. For Face ID, the company says the data collected by facial identification method is encrypted and "never leaves your device and is never backed up to iCloud or anywhere else." Apple adds that the apps cannot access Face ID data associated with the registered face.

"Within supported apps, you can enable Face ID for authentication. Apps are only notified as to whether the authentication is successful.

Users have control over how to use Face ID. One can disable Face ID by opening Settings > Face ID & Passcode > Use Face ID for and disable iPhone unlock. You can also disable Face ID for other functionalities.

Is it convenient?

Getting used to Face ID takes a bit of time, but not that long as you'd expect. Unlike the iris scanner on the Galaxy Note 8, Face ID doesn't fire your front camera on the screen. Everything that Face ID does is invisible to the human eye.

Also, it doesn't really compel you to hold your phone in front of your face all the times; rather it focuses on your attention (Attention-aware in Applespeak).The good thing is that it works from almost all angles and unlocks the phone with ease. It works even if you are wearing glasses or changed your look a bit. There's a minute bit of struggle when using in low light, but works properly nonetheless.

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First Published Date: 05 Nov, 11:56 IST