Apple unveiled its newest devices today, and contrary to much speculation the iPhone 8 does not feature a facial recognition system – but the iPhone X does.
To be clear, much of the speculation was correct, with the name of the new flagship device being the central error. The iPhone X does indeed enable user authentication via a facial recognition system, which Apple has officially dubbed Face ID, despite allusions in Apple’s HomePod code to a ‘Pearl ID’ face scanning system. It isn’t yet clear if Face ID is able to operate while the device is lying flat on a table – Apple representatives emphasized the simplicity of picking up the phone and looking at it to unlock it – but it will be used both for device unlocking and to verify Apple Pay transactions.
It also allows the device to have a full-size display, since it replaces the Touch ID fingerprint scanning system and eliminates the need for a physical home button. Touch ID will still be featured on the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus devices announced today, which are more like upgraded iPhone 7’s than the substantially redesigned iPhone X, but it is now definitively clear that Apple has failed in its suspected attempts to integrate Touch ID into the display itself.
That’s a technological challenge now open to Samsung to confront as it works on its Samsung Galaxy S9 device. But in the meantime, Apple X’s new Face ID system is likely to make waves in mobile biometrics in much the same way that Touch ID did when it kickstarted the fingerprint scanning revolution in 2013.