Face ID In iPhone X: What Do iOS App Developers Need To Know?

Apple announced a new and expensive edition of its popular smartphone – iPhone X – in September. The company subsequently made iPhone X available in more than 55 countries and territories. In addition to featuring an edge-to-edge OLED display, iPhone X also comes with a number of out-of-box features to challenge the dominance of Android platform.

At the same time, the special iPhone model also comes with an exclusive facial recognition system – Face ID. Face ID enables users to use their face just like conventional passwords. The facial scanning system enables a user to unlock his iPhone X simply by looking towards the smartphone with his eyes open. He can even use Face ID to keep the data stored on his iPhone X secure and make mobile payments.

However, Face ID in iPhone X takes advantage of another robust hardware feature included in the smartphone – TrueDepth camera. Many analysts believe that Apple will soon make the innovative facial scanning system available to other iPhone and iPad models. Hence, the iOS developers must understand important aspects of Face ID in iPhone X to meet the emerging mobile app development trend.

Important Aspects of Face ID in iPhone X each iOS App Developer Must Know

Replaces Touch ID on iPhone X

Touch ID was an integral part of several iPhone models. The authentication system enables users to unlock their smartphones simply by placing their fingers on the sensor. A user can even use Touch ID to perform various financial transactions and mobile payment. IPhone X is designed with Face ID instead of Touch ID. Unlike Touch ID, Face ID does not require users to touch their smartphones. A user can take advantage of Face ID to unlock his device simply by glancing at the screen. At the same time, the iOS app developers can take advantage of the new facial recognition system simply by replacing the Touch ID code with Face ID code.

Does not make Passcodes Obsolete

Despite replacing Touch ID on iPhone X, Face ID is yet to replace passcodes fully. Apple recommends iPhone X users to use passcodes while restarting the device, the device has remained unlocked for more than 48 hours, and the user has attempted wrong face match five times. Also, a user has to use passcode to make his iPhone X accessible to friends and family members.

Authenticates through TrueDepth Camera

Face ID authenticates users through another new feature provided by iPhone X – TrueDepth camera system. The advanced camera system captures all features of a user’s face through depth mapping. Also, TrueDepth creates a unique facial map by capturing over 30000 invisible dots projected onto a user’s face. Each time a user unlocks his iPhone X, TrueDepth Camera reads the dot patterns through an infrared camera and captures an infrared image. It subsequently sends the infrared image to Secure Enclave in the A11 Bionic chip. Once authenticity of the infrared image is confirmed the iPhone gets unlocked.

Uses Machine Learning

A user’s appearance may differ from time to time. Face ID uses machine learning algorithms to recognize the changes in a user’s appearance. Hence, a user can unlock his iPhone X regardless of his current appearance. He can take advantage of Face ID in iPhone X to unlock and authenticate despite wearing a hat, putting on glasses, and growing a beard. TrueDepth Camera further uses a flood illuminator to identify a user’s face through invisible infrared light when there is inadequate light.

Prevents Unauthorized Device Access

Despite identifying different appearances of the same user, Face ID in iPhone X still does not allow any other persons who unlock the smartphone. While unlocking the iPhone X, a user has to keep his eyes open. If the user’s eyes are closed, the iPhone X will remain unlocked. The feature makes it difficult for unauthorized users to unlock the mobile device when the original user is sleeping or absent. However, Face ID in iPhone X lacks the capability to identify identical twins. A user has to use a passcode additionally to prevent his iPhone X inaccessible to the twin.

No Option to Register Multiple Users

Apple further enhances the security of iPhone X by allowing each user to register a single face. No user has option to register multiple faces. Hence, only one user can unlock and authenticate through the Face ID. However, a user can still make his iPhone X accessible to multiple users by sharing his passcode. Multiple users can access the same iPhone X by performing authentication through passcode instead of Face ID.

Performs Multiple Tasks

In addition to keeping the iPhone X secure, Face ID also improves user experience by performing some basic tasks. The attention-aware nature of the facial recognition system further enables users to perform basic tasks simply by looking towards the iPhone X. For instance, a user can take advantage of Face ID to check messages and notifications, reduce volume of alarm or ringtone, and keep the screen lit while reading.

Facilitates Mobile Payment

Along with enhancing security of iPhone X, Face ID will also facilitate mobile payment. It will work seamlessly with Apple Pay. Also, a user can take advantage of Face ID in iPhone X while shopping at the brick-and-mortar stores and restaurants that support Touch ID payment. Also, the apps that support Touch ID will allow users to take advantage of Face ID. The developers can make their existing iOS apps support Face ID by replacing the Touch ID code with Face ID code. However, many banks and financial institutions are yet to support Face ID fully.

Security and Privacy Issues

Apple implements several security mechanisms to keep facial scan private and secure. After scanning a user’s face, the TrueDepth Camera system stored the information directly in the A11 Bionic chip. Apple further does not transfer the information to its server or cloud. Hence, the facial scanning information remains only on the iPhone X. Apple further uses the facial recognition system as a robust security tool to keep user data inaccessible and prevent unauthorized access. A hacker in Vietnam recently claimed to break Face ID by creating a complex face mask. But several security experts believe that Apple has to make several changes to Face ID in iPhone X to make it an effective security measure.

On the whole, Face ID in iPhone X transforms iOS app development by replacing Touch ID. But the iOS app developers must remember that the facial recognition system is currently used only by a single model of iPhone. Apple will make Face ID available on upcoming versions of iPhone and iPad gradually. Hence, the developers must explore ways to make their existing iOS apps support Face ID. Also, they must adopt the emerging trends in iOS app development to make their mobile app relevant and popular over a longer period of time.

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