David Pogue has received new information from Apple regarding the demo. Apparently, before the keynote began, the iPhone X was being set up for the demo by several apple employees. While being set up, the iPhone X repeatedly scanned these employees’ faces and tried to authenticate via Face ID. Then, “After failing a number of times, because they weren’t Craig, the iPhone did what it was designed to do, which was to require his passcode.” Mystery solved.
Yesterday Apple revealed the new iPhone X. The high end (read: expensive) new flagship ditches the home button in favor of an all screen device. The removal of the home button also means the removal of Touch ID. In its place, Apple introduced Face ID. The new system uses advanced cameras to authenticate a user’s identity. Face ID will be used both to unlock iPhone and for Apple Pay, so it is incredibly important that Face ID works well.
Unfortunately, the first demonstration of Face ID was anything but magical. Instead of working seamlessly, Face ID failed, which required the use of a backup iPhone X. The failure fueled speculation that Face ID is unreliable and a poor substitute for Touch ID.
I suggest reserving judgment until the final device ships. For one, iPhone X does not ship until November. In the interim, Apple has time to put the final touches on the Face ID software. Number two, many of the demos provided after the keynote worked perfectly.
There is even speculation that the on-stage failure occurred because the first iPhone X demo unit had not first been unlocked via passcode after being turned on. Even Touch ID requires the passcode be entered when the device is first turned on before allowing a finger print unlock. Lastly, Touch ID isn’t perfect either. Just this morning my iPhone 7 failed to unlock with my finger print, requiring two more attempts before Touch ID worked successfully. No solution is perfect, so let’s wait until the final device ships before comparing Face ID with Touch ID.