Face ID & Facial Recognition Explained

Face ID & Facial Recognition Explained

With the launch of iPhone X as part of iPhone's 10th anniversary, facial recognition technology has been thrown into the spotlight. As one of the signature features of Apple’s new premium device, it hasn't failed to generate heaps of discussion.

Whether you're a little unsure, or fully ready to embrace this cutting-edge tech, facial recognition has officially arrived. Here’s the lowdown on this potentially game-changing technology:

What is Facial Recognition?

Facial recognition is a type of biometric identification, which means it reacts to your body's unique characteristics in order to perform a task.

To date, smartphone biometrics have already been commonly available in the form of fingerprint and iris scanning sensors. These are regularly used for tasks like unlocking your device, securing apps, and authenticating payments. iPhone X isn't the first smartphone to feature facial recognition, but it is the first to incorporate 3D technology to make the process even more secure, via the new Face ID feature.

How does Face ID work?

The new iPhone employs a technology called TrueDepth. Using infrared light, a series of sensors scan your face and build up a virtual three-dimensional ‘map’ of it, based on 30,000 separate points. This map is then stored on the phone and used as a comparison for future use.

With Face ID, you’ll be able to unlock your phone simply by pointing it at your face. Apple notes that the system only responds to an attentive face, so accidental glances shouldn’t affect it.

Is Face ID secure?

Face ID looks set to be one of the most sophisticated and secure iterations of the technology we’ve seen so far. This is largely thanks to the three-dimensional aspect; rather than comparing features from two flat images, it’s comparing two highly detailed 3D models. In fact, it's so secure it can be used to authorise mobile payments.

According to a security briefing released by Apple, the probability of Face ID mistaking your face for a random stranger’s is approximately one in a million, compared to one in 50,000 for its predecessor Touch ID. However, Apple did highlight that the system is less secure for twins and for children under 13, as their facial features aren’t yet fully developed.

What is the future of Facial Recognition?

Apple’s not the only one experimenting with facial recognition. Facebook has recently been testing facial recognition tech of its own to help users securely recover their accounts. Facial recognition has also been part of the Google Photos app for several years.

In future, we could start seeing it in many other situations too – for instance, as an additional security measure alongside the PIN on your bank card or as part of building security.

Are you excited to try the next generation of facial recognition tech on iPhone X? Head over to Mobiles.co.uk and browse the best deals on the latest handsets.