Apple says too many faces ruined its Face ID stage demo

Apparently, the demo iPhone X locked up because it tried authenticating a lot of faces.

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Mariella Moon
September 14, 2017 2:41 PM
In this article: apple, faceid, failid, gear, iphonex, keynote, mobile
Chris Velazco/Engadget
Chris Velazco/Engadget

When Apple OS chief Craig Federighi tried to demo Face ID on stage during Cupertini's annual iPhone event, it didn't quite work as he expected. "Your passcode is required to enable Face ID" popped up, eliciting a nervous chuckle out of Craig and forcing him to switch to the spare demo phone. While people were quick to say that Face ID failed its first test, the hiccup apparently happened not because iPhone X's star feature didn't work, but because it worked too well. Apple told Yahoo's David Pogue that Face ID failed on stage, because it tried authenticating a lot of faces other than Craig's.

You know how your iPhone would lock up after failing to authenticate someone else's fingerprints a few times? Apple examined the demo device's logs and found that the same thing happened to it. "People were handling the device for stage demo ahead of time, and didn't realize Face ID was trying to authenticate their face," a company rep explained. "After failing a number of times, because they weren't Craig, the iPhone did what it was designed to do, which was to require his passcode."

While it's great that the feature is working exactly as intended, it shows why facial authentication might not be ideal for everyone. If you frequently let family members or friends use your phone, will your iPhone X lock up all the time? In that case, it might be better to switch it off completely -- or get another phone altogether.

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