There's a lot of hype over Face ID, the facial recognition system of Apple's forthcoming iPhone X, but some of its shortcomings are already becoming clear. The system lets users unlock their phones just by glancing at them, but has also raised privacy questions and some anxieties over whether someone could force you to unlock your phone by pointing it at your face.
The company published a white paper Wednesday on Face ID security, alongside an update to its website's privacy section.
Unlike other tech giants, Apple has always openly talked about its data collection practices, the reasons behind such collection and how it plans to keep that data secure.
Face ID captures both a 3-D and 2-D image of your face using infrared light while you're looking straight at the camera. Say, for example, you get a nasty scar on your forehead and the iPhone X doesn't recognize you.
If you're still anxious about Face ID, you can read Apple's entire security guide at this link. Apple explained that handlers mistakenly set off Face ID attempts prior to Federighi's presentation, which caused the phone to revert to a passcode lock before he took the stage. 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.
The iPhone X will store representations of your face in its "secure enclave", a hardware-based enclosure created to be resistant to spying and tampering. Instead, after scanning they create a mathematical representation based on infrared images.
The iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, on the other hand, still have Touch ID sensors, but do not feature Face ID. In a white paper released today, Apple assures that the "facial matching is performed within the secure enclave using neural networks trained specifically for that objective", which means data never leaves the user data.
By default, Face ID requires you to look at your iPhone. So turning away is one emergency measure you could take. Apple points out that this neural engine also lives within the A11 chip's secure enclave and is therefore protected from hacks.
The tenth anniversary iPhone X starts at $999 for 64GB capacity or $1,149 for 256GB and comes in space gray or silver.
The device has just been turned on or restarted. The process essentially turns your phone into a brick for anyone who doesn't know your passcode.
"At Apple, we believe privacy is a fundamental human right", the site says. The system keeps recent images and uses them to allow unlocking if they are close enough to the registered image. So, you can rest assured that snoops won't be able to unlock your phone with a photo of you, or a mask of your face.