When Apple announces the iPhone 8, iPhone X or iPhone Edition depending on which rumor you believe today, it will also announce the plethora of new features and improvements to existing ones that will come as part of the package.
With the lack of a hardware Home button, it would certainly seem that one of those new features is a necessity – facial recognition. Apple’s removal of Touch ID, again if rumors are to be believed, means there needs to be some sort of secure unlocking capability that will not only allow the iPhone to be accessed without using a passcode, but also a way to authenticate for things like Apple Pay and banking apps. It is this feature that will likely prove to be the big marquee offering that is demonstrated as a reason to buy the new iPhone, but will it be any good?
The idea of face unlocking with facial recognition as a whole is nothing new of course. Samsung already offers similar functionality as part of its own devices, with the Galaxy S8 / S8+ and Galaxy Note 8 featuring facial recognition themselves, backed up by a secondary feature that also scans irises, as well as fingerprints. It works well in that things get unlocked when they should, and everyone moves on with their day.
However, Samsung’s implementation of facial recognition does have its problems. For starters, it can easily be fooled by using a photo because at the end of the day, all it is doing is looking for facial features and unlocking the device if it sees what it expects to see. The smarts going on inside the Samsung hardware is no doubt very, well, smart, but the fact remains – it can be fooled, both on S8 and the latest Note 8, at least that is how it is when facial recognition is activated as shown by the embedded video below where a user was easily able to bypass Samsung’s facial recognition tech by unlocking Note 8 using people profile pictures on Facebook.
But with the iris scanning tech. activated, Samsung’s software will also check the user’s eyes to make sure they are who they say they are, only unlocking if all boxes are checked. A human iris is more unique than a fingerprint so, theoretically, this solution is more secure than using fingerprint scanner. The downside? Well, it’s much slower and requires the phone to be held just so to allow the scanning to take place. Not ideal for something like Apple Pay, for example.
This is now where Apple’s supposedly super duper facial recognition with all its 3D sensors will come into play. If rumors are to be believed, Apple’s technology is capable of working even when the phone is not at an optimal angle for something like iris recognition. It will also be super quick, and will work even in pitch dark environments. We do not really know yet what Apple’s tech. is, so we don’t really know yet what it’s looking for other than there is apparently some sort of “3D scanning” going on, whatever that really means. What we do know is that if the facial recognition Apple is using is secure enough for Apple Pay, then it is much more clever than Samsung’s vanilla facial recognition, though how it manages that, remains to be seen.
We’ll get that answer come September 12th.
(source: Mel Tajon [Twitter])
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