What Is Face ID?

When Apple announced Face ID, it became an immense revolution in biometrics technology. In this article, we’ll discuss this facial recognition method, its uses, and how it impacted smartphone technology after its release.

What is Face ID?

Face ID is a proprietary biometric authentication technology developed by Apple Inc.. It was first introduced at an Apple Event in November 2017. Presented as a biometric authentication method for the newly released iPhone X, Face ID replaced Touch ID, which uses fingerprints as the primary authentication method for previous iPhone generations.

How does Face ID work?

Face ID technology involves intricate processes, from mapping the face of the device’s owner to authentication. Apple’s TruDepth camera is responsible for capturing face data. Upon enrolling a face on an Apple device that will use Face ID, The TruDepth camera projects thousands of invisible dots on the face of the owner’s device. It creates a depth map while also capturing an infrared image of the face.

This depth map and infrared image would then be sent to the device’s neural engine, which is housed within the Apple device’s Bionic chip. They will be transformed into mathematical representations and used to compare to the enrolled facial data every time the owner tries to unlock their device.

What are the uses of Face ID?

Face ID has become the standard authentication method for iPhone X and iPad Pro 3rd Generation and beyond. It has spawned so many applications aside from unlocking your Apple Device. Here are some examples:

  • Apple Pay and financial transactions

Face ID provides a secure way to verify your identity for Apple Pay purchases without entering a passcode. Additionally, it’s used to confirm payments made with third-party apps.

  • App Store downloads

Getting apps from Apple’s App Store uses Face ID to confirm the download. Face ID is also useful, especially when downloading paid apps, preventing others from downloading apps to Apple devices without the owner’s authorization.

  • Signing in to accounts

Sign-ins on social media or any other account can be done with the help of a Face ID. The authentication method can either auto-populate your sign-in credentials or give you access to the passwords you store for different accounts and profiles on your device.

  • Passkey

Another way to authenticate an identity to sign in to apps or do transactions online is using Face ID as a passkey. A passkey is an alternative to traditional passwords. There are accounts where users can opt in to use passkeys instead of passwords to log in. The passkey would then utilize Face ID as a form of authentication, eliminating the need for remembering passwords altogether.

Face ID security

Face ID is marketed as a secure way to unlock your Apple device, making it a staple authenticating method for newer devices created by the tech giant. According to Apple, there is less than a 1 in 1,000,000 chance that a random person could unlock your iPhone or iPad Pro with Face ID. Face ID is also trained to detect if a 2D image is being used in attempts to circumvent the sensor.

However, Face ID does have limitations. One is its inability to distinguish between identical twins or siblings with similar facial features perfectly. This limitation can even extend to individuals who share very close facial resemblances.

Additionally, the widespread use of face masks during the COVID-19 pandemic posed a challenge to Face ID functionality. Apple addressed this by introducing an update that allows Face ID to recognize the unique features around the eye area for authentication while wearing a mask.

While convenient, it’s important to note that Apple acknowledges this method as less secure than full-facial recognition.

Face ID: Balancing convenience and security

Face ID has become a standard for authentication for Apple devices such as mobile devices and iPad Pros. It offers a more secure way of unlocking Apple devices and conducting other transactions while making the process more convenient for users. While there were earlier examples of facial recognition for unlocking devices, Apple made sure that implementing facial biometrics on Apple devices would be sophisticated, functional, and convenient to use.

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