Federighi’s Face ID Fail Became A Chance To Highlight iPhone X’s Safeguards

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If you’ve heard almost anything about the iPhone X reveal earlier this week, you’ve probably heard about Apple SVP Craig Federighi’s Face ID fail. Although he seemed surprised when the iPhone X wouldn’t log him in when he scanned his face, but he has quickly dispatched the critics by turning it into a chance to highlight even more features.

In an email sent to a developer, the Apple executive appears to have addressed all those who are worried that Face ID could be used by others to get into their iPhone X.

Face ID fail or PR stunt?

If you haven’t heard, Federighi’s Face ID fail occurred during his part of the iPhone X presentation. While on stage, he attempted to use Face ID to log into his iPhone X as thousands of people in Steve Jobs Theater and around the world watching via the live stream looked on excitedly. Unfortunately, the software engineering senior vice president had to reach for a backup device in order to demonstrate the highly-anticipated feature. That Face ID fail caused some to start worrying about how well it will work—and others who were already worrying to worry even more.

Apple denies that the Face ID fail was actually a failure, however, offering up a different explanation for Face ID’s failure to log him into the iPhone X on stage. The company says the security feature worked just as it is supposed to.

An Apple spokesperson told Yahoo that some unnamed “people” were handling the iPhone X for a stage demo before the presentation and didn’t know that Face ID was trying to authenticate their face. After several attempts that each resulted in a Face ID fail, the iPhone X locked itself down and required Federighi’s passcode instead.

So perhaps it was nothing but a PR stunt after all.

Squeeze your iPhone X for protection

After seeing the Face ID fail during the presentation, developer Keith Krimbel decided to investigate, so he emailed Federighi to ask some questions about the feature. The Apple executive responded, and Krimbel posted that response on Twitter.

One concern many have raised is whether others could force someone’s iPhone X to unlock by simply holding it up to their face. Federighi explained that the easiest way to keep this from happening is simply to avoid staring at the phone. This seems to answer the issue of how to keep others from unlocking your iPhone while you’re sleeping, but it offers no protection when police, thieves or anyone else want to force you to stare at it so it will unlock.

Thus, the other solution he offered is quite interesting. Essentially, you just need to give your iPhone X a squeeze when handing it over to the other person.

“If you grip the buttons on both sides of the phone when you hand it over, it will temporarily disable Face ID,” he wrote.

It’s unclear how long you have to do that before Face ID will be disabled, but it’s something at least. There are also lots of scenarios in which you might not have the chance to squeeze your phone when you hand it over, like if someone grabs it before you have a chance to do anything. More answers will probably be forthcoming, but for now, you can check out his answers to Krimbel’s other questions:

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