Apple says the iPhone X is the future of the smartphone: a future wherein all smartphones would be a long continuous sheet of glass with an edge-to-edge display and no physical buttons. And no fingerprint scanners. While companies like Samsung and LG and Xiaomi have already embraced this future (keeping intact the fingerprint scanner though), Cupertino major Apple just joined the bandwagon of all screen and no bezel phones, with the iPhone X: a phone that also marks an important milestone in the history of the company in question. The iPhone X — pronounced as iPhone ten — exists to commemorate ten years of the iPhone. The first iPhone, to recall, was launched by the late Steve Jobs in 2007.
“For more than a decade, our intention has been to create an iPhone that is all display. The iPhone X is the realisation of that vision,” Jony Ive, Apple’s chief design officer said in a press statement. “With the introduction of iPhone ten years ago, we revolutionised the mobile phone with Multi-Touch. iPhone X marks a new era for iPhone — one in which the device disappears into the experience.”
Apple’s shiny new iPhone X is strictly for fans though. In more ways than one could imagine.
The iPhone X is notably the first iPhone ever to ditch Touch ID in favour of Face ID which means Apple’s shiny new iPhone doesn’t ship with a fingerprint scanner. Facial recognition technology on-board the iPhone X is aided by a TrueDepth camera system consisting of depth-sensing hardware: a dot projector, an infrared camera and a flood illuminator that apparently makes Face ID a whole lot secure than Apple’s tried and tested Touch ID.
“Face ID projects more than 30,000 invisible IR dots. The IR image and dot pattern are pushed through neural networks to create a mathematical model of your face and send the data to the secure enclave to confirm a match, while adapting to physical changes in appearance over time. All saved facial information is protected by the secure enclave to keep data extremely secure, while all of the processing is done on-device and not in the cloud to protect user privacy. Face ID only unlocks iPhone X when customers look at it and is designed to prevent spoofing by photos or masks,” according to Apple.
In essence, Apple claims that its Face ID is safer, faster and adaptable. Note that Samsung’s Galaxy S8/Galaxy S8+/Galaxy Note 8 also ship with facial recognition technology for biometric authentication, but, there have been reports that it could be fooled using photos. Also, it’s a little iffy in low light/dark environments, much like any other standard facial recognition tech. The iPhone X’s Face ID, according to Apple, has a one in one million chance of being fooled by a random person’s face. In contrast, there’s a one in 50,000 chance that a random user could fool Touch ID, according to the company. Just to ensure added security, Apple has also worked with professional mask makers in Hollywood to ensure that Face ID couldn’t be fooled by synthetic faces. Bottom-line is, Face ID is supposedly safer than Touch ID, and also it works in the dark/low light, and is also adaptable which means it learns a user’s facial changes — like beard and stubble — over time and responds accordingly.
Apple says the iPhone X is the future of the smartphone: a future wherein all smartphones would be a long continuous sheet of glass with an edge-to-edge display and no physical buttons. And no fingerprint scanners
With great power comes great responsibility, they say, and Apple isn’t known to toil around with new technology if it isn’t one hundred per cent sure about it. Over time, the company has ditched a lot of things – quite recently, the headphone jack — some that many have considered a fundamental right all their lifetime before finally giving in to Apple’s starry tantrums. But while you could still live without a headphone jack – the dongle life could be hard to pull off, but certainly not impossible – I am not too sure how many – but fans – would be able to live without a fingerprint scanner. A fingerprint scanner may not be as secure as facial recognition, according to Apple, but it sure is a lot more convenient.
A fingerprint scanner, like Touch ID, allows you to safely store more than one fingerprint which means you can have one of yours and maybe one of someone who’s really close to you – your child for instance – so they can use your phone even when you’re not around. You can of course limit them from using certain apps by fingerprint/password protecting them, but, on the whole the phone won’t be an exclusive to you. In the case of the iPhone X, because your face is your password, you’ll always have to be around for someone to be using your phone, unless you’re fine giving them your secure password as well.
Convenience is, at the end of the day, all a matter of choice and perspective though. The thing that’ll really matter to everyone will be how safe and secure Apple’s new unlocking mechanism will be when put to actual test.
That your face can be decoded to deceive, defraud and gain profit in illegal ways is no rocket science any more. Apps that allow someone to put on the face of another person during video calls have been around since 2011 and/or earlier. Apple’s Touch ID, that was gold standard for security once, has been spoofed in the past. Apple’s Face ID could be spoofed as well, although, by the looks of it, it would be much harder than just using a photo or an app, but surely not impossible. Chances are, miscreants may not go to great lengths to 3D map/3D print every average person to try and spoof their Face ID, but then, not every average person is going to buy the iPhone X anyways. Call me cynical, but, once someone gets a hold of your precious face to spoof your iPhone X, well, there’ll be no turning back. You can have multiple fingerprints, but, that face of yours is one in a million. Or is it?
The world is yet to see how the iPhone X responds to identical twins, and god forbid, if one of them is evil.
Developer Keith Krimbel, who seems to be quite satisfied with Face ID on-board the iPhone X, still isn’t one hundred sure about it. Face ID, after all, leaves behind more questions than it answers. Keith went ahead and put forth a couple of questions to which luckily he got answers from Apple. Craig Federighi who is Apple’s senior vice president of Software Engineering, via email, gave out two key pointers about Face ID that were surprisingly not touched at the company’s high-profile September 12 launch event.
— Face ID will work with most (sunglasses), but not all. Most sunglasses let through enough IR (Infra-red) light that Face ID can see your eyes even when the glasses appear to be opaque.
— If you don’t stare at the phone, it won’t unlock. If you grip the buttons on both sides of the phone when you hand it over, it will temporarily disable Face ID.
The second pointer came in response to the question, “what will prevent a thief from taking my phone, pointing at my face and running?”That Face ID disabling trick’s pretty neat. Question is: is there a manual time-frame up to which you can disable it? We do not know for sure yet.
The iPhone X is notably the first iPhone ever to ditch Touch ID in favour of Face ID which means Apple’s shiny new iPhone doesn’t ship with a fingerprint scanner
Facial recognition isn’t new in phones. Apple’s biggest rival Samsung ships it in its new flagship Galaxy phones, the Galaxy S8, Galaxy S8+ and Galaxy Note 8. Samsung’s new phones, however, come with two additional biometric authentication features: an iris scanner and a fingerprint scanner, for added security. No other smartphone in the world offers as many biometrics as Samsung’s new Galaxy S phones. That’s in addition to the more traditional pattern, password and PIN protection.
“Each individual has a uniquely different and highly intricate iris pattern in each eye, which is fully developed at a very young age and remains unchanged throughout one’s lifetime. This, combined with the fact that iris patterns are almost impossible to replicate makes iris scanning one of the most secure and reliable biometric techniques available,” according to Samsung. As much as Samsung would want you to believe that iris scanning is full-proof, you must know that it isn’t. Just like your fingerprint, your iris scan can be faked and by-passed. The same is true about facial recognition as well.
The fight is, therefore, to be or not to be the one that’s the fastest to break through. Some would be by-passed easily, some not that easily.”We use passwords to access Internet services. When a password is compromised, you can easily change it. Speaking of plastic credit cards, they can be quickly substituted as well — in a week or two — if they are lost or stolen. Imagine that you use parts of your body for identification, such as fingerprints or iris scans. Can you make new body parts, if cybercriminals make copies of the old ones?” according to cybersecurity and anti-virus provider Kaspersky.
“New technologies are always vulnerable — because they are new. It’s not enough to come up with yet another innovation — the thing is it has to be implemented in a secure way, and not all vendors are able to do that. And even if they cope with this task, they definitely won’t do it for version one,” Kaspersky adds.
All of the biometrics that the Galaxy S8/Galaxy S8+/Galaxy Note 8 and the one that the iPhone X ships with are meant to make your smartphone experience fast and secure. In real life though, they may be fast but they certainly aren’t safe enough. Which brings us back to the more traditional pattern, password and PIN protection. They may not be as fast, but, they are a lot more secure in comparison. You can call me a cynic, but, I’d rather spend my money on a well thought-out PIN or password than on a fingerprint to access my phone.
As for the iPhone X and the supposedly safe and secure Face ID, well, it doesn’t really matter. You can choose not to use it at all, and, ignore it completely. That’ll however not stop fans from buying the new iPhone X and gawking over its all-new Face ID. Not to forget, that gorgeous nearly all-screen design and dual cameras with dual OIS. I’d still suggest they give it some time, see how it goes before investing in the iPhone X. For everybody else, the regular iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus should work well, because they’re apparently a lot more grounded and less of a gorgeous piece of infinite gimmickry. Hopefully, the iPhone X won’t mean the end of Touch ID, because, that would be just sad.
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