Apple has updated its service policy for a limited number of iPhone X units that may be experiencing issues with Face ID.
Apple Stores and Apple Authorized Service Providers are now authorized to perform a whole unit replacement for iPhone X units with Face ID issues, instead of a display repair, according to an internal document obtained by MacRumors.
Apple Stores and Apple Authorized Service Providers have been advised to first run diagnostics on the iPhone X’s rear camera and potentially repair that system if necessary to see if that resolves the problem. If the issues persist, then a whole unit replacement is now permitted, the document states.
There appears to be some kind of link between failure of the iPhone X’s rear camera and front TrueDepth system, although it’s not entirely clear.
The document in full reads:
In order to provide the best customer experience, if a customer reports that their iPhone X is having Face ID issues, you may be able to resolve the issue with a rear camera repair. Run AST 2 on the customer’s device to check the camera. If the diagnostics find issue with the camera, perform the repair to see if the issue is resolved. If the issue is not resolved, perform a whole unit replacement instead of a same-unit display repair.
Apple has not commented on this matter publicly, or launched any sort of official repair program, as these are internal guidelines.
Affected customers can book an appointment with an Apple Authorized Service Provider or Apple Store via the Contact Apple Support page: iPhone → Repairs & Physical Damage → The Topic is Not Listed → Bring In For Repair. Following those steps also presents options to contact Apple by phone or email.
iHelpBR editor Filipe Espósito has discovered strings in the first iOS 11.3 beta that refer to a “modern iPad,” which is notable since Apple’s software engineers referred to the iPhone X as the “modern iPhone” in older firmware, according to both Espósito and developer Guilherme Rambo.
While the “modern iPad” strings could be placeholders, as commonly found in Apple’s code, the discovery lends credence to rumors of an iPad Pro with Face ID, which would certainly be a logical next step in Apple’s product roadmap.
KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also expects Apple to release a new iPad Pro with Face ID this year, so there is a good chance the rumor is true. Like the iPhone X, the tablet reportedly lacks a Home button, although it will likely still have an LCD instead of OLED display due to supply, cost, and technological constraints.
It’s unclear if the iPad Pro will have a notch for the TrueDepth system, as illustrated in the first mockup above, or if the device will have uniformly slim bezels on all four sides with enough room for the Face ID sensors.
A new report from South Korea’s ETNews insinuates that iPhones may have a smaller notch in 2019 or beyond.
The report, citing industry sources, claims Apple is “looking into” combining the front-facing camera and Face ID on next year’s iPhones, a move that could certainly reduce the size of the TrueDepth sensor housing.
According to industries, it is heard that Apple is planning to strengthen face sensing function starting from 2019 models. That is why it is planning to increase number of parts that will be used for iPhones and is looking into combination of a face recognition module with a camera module.
The confusing bit is that the report mentions a singular face recognition module, whereas Face ID is powered by an infrared camera, dot projector, and flood illuminator. The report doesn’t specify how Apple would manage to combine these components, so like many very-early-on rumors, this one isn’t entirely clear yet.
The notch is easily the most controversial attribute of the iPhone X’s design. While many early adopters don’t mind the small cutout at the top of the display, others have heavily criticized it, including The Outline‘s Joshua Topolsky.
The “notch” on the new iPhone X is not just strange, interesting, or even odd — it is bad. It is bad design, and as a result, bad for the user experience. The justification for the notch (the new Face ID tech, which lets you unlock the device just by looking at it) could have easily been accomplished with no visual break in the display. Yet here is this awkward blind spot cradled by two blobs of actual screen space.
Unfortunately for those critics, it doesn’t look like the smaller notch will arrive in 2018, as new iPhones and iPads set to launch later this year are expected to have the same TrueDepth sensor housing as the iPhone X.
Apple is planning a significant investment in LG Innotek to secure supply of 3D sensing modules for next-generation iPhone and iPad models expected to launch this year, according to Korean website The Investor.
iPad Pro render by Benjamin Geskin and rough mockup of iPhone X and iPhone X Plus
The upfront payment could be worth as much as around $820.9 million, which LG Innotek would use to build additional facilities for production of 3D sensing and camera modules for smartphones, the report claims.
The 3D sensing modules assembled by LG Innotek, including the flood illuminator and dot projector, are key components of the iPhone X’s new TrueDepth camera system, enabling features such as Face ID and Animoji.
The investment could help Apple avoid the temporary supply chain issues it experienced with 3D sensing modules late last year, ensuring availability of the iPhone X, iPhone X Plus, and new iPad Pro is more plentiful.
Samsung today announced the launch of its latest flagship mobile processor that’s expected to power the firm’s upcoming Galaxy S9 series devices. Called the Exynos 9810, the 9 series CPU is built on a second-generation 10-nanometer (nm) FinFET process and, apart from being faster and more energy efficient, includes advanced AI and deep learning capabilities that will power a new breed of facial recognition features in the smartphones.
The Exynos 9810 has a neural engine that can recognize people and objects in photos at very high speed, and will enable apps to use realistic face-tracking filters, according to Samsung – perhaps in a manner akin to Animojis which use the TrueDepth camera found in Apple’s iPhone X.
Armed with the Exynos 9810, which has a separate secure processing unit for handling sensitive personal and biometric data, the new Samsung phones will also be capable of scanning and creating a 3D image of a user’s face. The obvious suggestion here is that the Galaxy S9 range will have a facial authentication system similar to Face ID in the iPhone X.
Last year’s S8 also had facial recognition capabilities, but it was limited to 2D tracking, making it less secure than Face ID and easy to fool. Despite the jump to 3D scanning though, it doesn’t look like Samsung will be relying on facial recognition as the sole authentication method in its 2018 smartphones.
CAD leaks and rumors suggest the S9 will retain the rear-mounted fingerprint sensor, now located underneath a new-dual camera setup instead of being positioned alongside a single lens, as it was on the S8. The change of location is presumably to make accidentally smudging the lens with fingerprints less likely, but as expected, Samsung will not be building fingerprint recognition into the OLED display. Otherwise, the general design of the Galaxy S9 looks largely similar to the S8.
For over a year leading up to the iPhone X, rumors ran rampant about Touch ID being placed under the display, or on the back or side of the device, but Apple has said those reports are untrue. In perhaps the biggest signal of its confidence in the security of its authentication method, rumors suggest Apple will remove Touch ID on all iPhones launched in 2018 in favor of Face ID.
When it comes to facial recognition, Apple’s TrueDepth camera is said to have given Cupertino a solid technological lead throughout 2018, and perhaps beyond. Indeed, Samsung and other Android competitors could require up to two and a half years to replicate the functionality and user experience of the TrueDepth Camera in Apple’s iPhone X, according to KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.
As with previous years, Samsung’s new Galaxy Sx series of phones are expected to debut at the annual Mobile World Congress in February.
Increasing numbers of iPhone X owners with children are finding that they are unable to approve family purchases using Face ID. The scale of the frustration was recently highlighted by ArsTechnica, which linked to a page on Apple’s support forum containing hundreds of complaints.
Basically, iPhone X users are unable to use facial authentication with the “Ask to Buy” feature, which lets parents approve their kids’ iOS purchases and downloads. On iOS devices with Touch ID, parents – or “family organizers”, as Apple calls them – can use Touch ID to approve Ask to Buy, but iPhone X owners are forced to enter their password manually on every occasion, which could quickly become a nuisance for device owners with big families.
The inability to approve family purchases with Face ID is noteworthy, given that Apple has marketed it as a functional like-for-like replacement for Touch ID, but with enhanced security and speed. The frustration surrounding the missing functionality appears to have come to a head only recently because of the popularity of App Store gift cards over the holiday season.
Face ID is generally very secure in everyday use cases, and while some attempts to fool the feature have been successful, many involve complicated technical methods and a good deal of preparation.
That said, we have seen evidence of a 10-year-old child unlocking his mother’s iPhone X with his face, even though Face ID was set up with her face. Apple itself also notes that Face ID often fails to identify between identical twins, while the probability of a false match is higher among children under the age of 13, because their distinct facial features may not have fully developed. These caveats have led some to speculate whether Apple is erring on the side of caution in choosing not to deploy Face ID for family purchase approval.
In early 2013, Apple settled a class action lawsuit originally filed by parents after their children ran up hundreds of dollars on in-app purchases in freemium games. In 2014, the company entered into an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission, promising to provide $32 million in refunds to parents whose children purchased unauthorized in-app items.
Apple’s current focus with Face ID is on single-user authentication, suggesting support for multiple faces won’t be added in the near future, according to an alleged email from the company’s software engineering chief Craig Federighi.
By comparison, Touch ID can store up to five fingerprints, and each of those fingerprints can belong to a different person. This allows a married couple, for example, to be able to securely authenticate a single iPhone.
In an email to a customer, however, Federighi appears to admit that Touch ID’s multi-finger support has always been intended for a single iPhone owner to authenticate with a finger or thumb on both the left and right hand if desired.
Federighi added that Face ID could eventually authenticate multiple faces as the system evolves in the future, but his email makes it clear that Apple doesn’t have any immediate plans to implement said functionality.
The user who shared this email on Reddit has a good reputation and history on the website, so we’re inclined to believe it is authentic. However, we are still waiting to receive full headers of the email to verify its origins.
A screenshot of Craig Federighi’s alleged email response to a customer
Vietnamese security firm Bkav has also been able to spoof Face ID twice with 3D printed masks, but the steps involved are quite complex and this isn’t something the average user should be very concerned about.
In practical, real-world usage, Face ID has proved to be very secure and reliable. But, at least for now, it appears that iPhone X owners won’t be able to extend this convenience to their trusted family members or friends.
Since the iPhone X launched earlier this month, people have been attempting to fool Face ID, the new biometric facial recognition feature built into the device as a primary security feature. Face ID has thus far been tricked by twins, children, and even a mask.
Vietnamese security company Bkav made headlines in mid-November after uploading a video featuring Face ID accessed by a mask, but there were several questions about the unlocking methods used in the video, including whether “Require Attention” was turned on. Today, Bkav shared a second video with a new mask and a clearer look at how the mask was used to spoof Face ID.
As described in an accompanying blog post, Bkav used a 3D printed mask made of stone powder, which cost approximately $200 to produce. 2D infrared images of eyes were then taped over the mask to emulate real eyes.
Bkav reset Face ID on camera and then set it up anew with the demonstrator’s face. “Require Attention for Face ID” and “Attention Aware Features” were both shown to be enabled on the iPhone X. For those unaware, “Require Attention for Face ID” is meant to add an extra layer of security by requiring you to look at your iPhone to use Face ID, and it’s one of the features that’s supposed to prevent Face ID from unlocking with a mask, with a photograph, or when you’re looking away from your phone.
After activating Face ID, the Bkav demonstrator unlocks the iPhone X normally with his own face, and then unlocks it once again with the mask. The mask appears to be able to unlock the iPhone X right away, with no failed attempts and no learning, as Face ID was set up from scratch just before the test. The mask’s 2D infrared eyes also appear to fool the “Require Attention for Face ID” setting.
Bkav claims the materials and tools used to create the mask are “casual for anyone” and that Face ID is “not secure enough to be used in business transactions,” but it’s worth noting that fooling Face ID in this way requires a 3D printer, several hundred dollars worth of materials, physical access to a person’s iPhone X, and detailed facial photographs that can be used to reconstruct a person’s face. Even then, if the 3D printed mask and the design of the infrared eyes aren’t perfect, Face ID will fail after five attempts.
Bkav believes Face ID is less secure than Touch ID because it’s easier to capture photographs from afar than it is to obtain a fingerprint, but this is still a very complex replication process that the average user does not need to be concerned with.
Bkav researchers said that making 3D model is very simple. A person can be secretly taken photos in just a few seconds when entering a room containing a pre-setup system of cameras located at different angles. Then, the photos will be processed by algorithms to make a 3D object.
It can be said that, until now, Fingerprint is still the most secure biometric technology. Collecting a fingerprint is much harder than taking photos from a distance.
Apple’s Face ID security white paper [PDF] outlines several scenarios where Face ID has a higher probability of being fooled, including with twins, siblings that look alike, and children under the age of 13, but masks are of particular interest because Face ID features a neural network that was “trained to spot and resist spoofing” to protect against “attempts to unlock your phone with photos or masks.” From Apple:
Face ID matches against depth information, which isn’t found in print or 2D digital photographs. It’s designed to protect against spoofing by masks or other techniques through the use of sophisticated anti-spoofing neural networks. Face ID is even attention-aware.
When Touch ID, Face ID’s predecessor, was first released in the iPhone 5s in 2013, there were many similar demonstrations of how it could be fooled with a fake fingerprint, but there’s little evidence that these methods were ever used to unlock devices in the real world on a wide scale basis, and it turned out to be something most iPhone users did not need to worry about. The same is likely true of Face ID.
Apple has made several improvements to Touch ID over the years, making it faster and more accurate, and similar improvements will undoubtedly be made to Face ID in the future. In the meantime, while Face ID can be fooled by a twin or a complicated facial replication process, it’s largely secure for most users and has received mostly positive reviews for its security and ease of use.