iPhone X Face ID Problem: Smartphone Unlocked By A 10-year Old

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Face ID, the iPhone X exclusive facial recognition system, is undoubtedly more reliable and secure than the Touch ID which is used on previous iPhones. According to Apple, the chance of someone else unlocking your iPhone X with Face ID is one in a million. Still, there has emerged an iPhone X Face ID problem, as there is a new video of a mother explaining that her 10-year old son managed to unlock her iPhone X via Face ID with his own face. The probability of Face ID’s security working properly is significantly lower for siblings, especially twins, and children under the age of 13.

Apple’s security white paper recommends that anyone who is worried about their identical twin, or sibling unlocking their smartphone should disable the Face ID and type in a passcode, which may be more annoying to do.

Here’s a video uploaded to YouTube channel Attaullah Malik, which describes the information.

The two family members do share a striking resemblance, but there are some differences, such as shape and size. Still, given that the child who managed to unlock the smartphone is only ten years old, the undeveloped facial points could contribute to the mentioned iPhone X Face ID problem.

Here’s how Apple described this process.

Conversely, if Face ID fails to recognize you, but the match quality is higher than a certain threshold and you immediately follow the failure by entering your passcode, Face ID takes another capture and augments its enrolled Face ID data with the newly calculated mathematical representation.

That probably means that if the son failed to unlock his parent’s smartphone, but then entered the password while the sensor was viewing him, the data the Face ID collected could be brought into the neural network’s processing. With this in mind, the odds of the son unlocking his mother’s iPhone X would be more likely, even if it was his mother who set up the Face ID.

WIRED interviewed the mother in its article where they say that the mentioned process is not exactly what happened. Still, it is the most logical explanation for how this would have happened, as it’s very easy to accidentally train the Face ID without thinking. Additional lack of defined facial features for the 10-year old child is of critical importance too.

“At WIRED’s suggestion, Malik asked his wife to re-register her face to see what would happen. After Sherwani freshly programmed her face into the phone, it no longer allowed Ammar access. To further test it, Sherwani tried registering her face again a few hours later, to replicate the indoor, nighttime lighting conditions in which she first set up her iPhone X. The problem returned; Ammar unlocked the phone on his third try this time. It worked again on his sixth try. At that point, Malik says, the phone’s AI seemed to learn Ammar’s features, and he could consistently unlock it again and again.”

The Face ID setup process asks for two scans of a user’s face. However, a more advanced training mode would allow users to insert more “trusted” information to the Face ID system, thereby enhancing the neural network models with more information, and reduce the chance of incorrect matches that causes the iPhone X Face ID problem.

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