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Apple's Craig Federighi Answers More Questions About Face ID

Apple's Software
September 15, 2017

Just days after Apple officially unveiled the Face ID authentication for the iPhone X, the company’s Craig Federighi discussed the technology in a new interview with TechCrunch.

Just like Touch ID, the facial information isn’t accessible to anyone since the data is stored inside the phone’s secure enclave:

One of the primary questions about Face ID that has come from many quarters is how Apple is going to handle law enforcement requests for facial data.

The simple answer, which is identical to the answer for Touch ID, by the way, is that Apple does not even have a way to give it to law enforcement. Apple never takes possession of the data, anonymized or otherwise. When you train the data it gets immediately stored in the Secure Enclave as a mathematical model that cannot be reverse-engineered back into a “model of a face.” Any re-training also happens there. It’s on your device, in your SE, period.

He also talked about the range your phone needs to be in relation to a face:

“It’s quite similar to the ranges you’d be at if you put your phone in front-facing camera mode [to take a picture],” says Federighi. Once your space from eyes to mouth come into view that would be the matching range — it can work at fairly extreme angles — if it’s down low because your phone is in your lap it can unlock it as long as it can see those features. Basically, If you’re using your phone across a natural series of angles it can unlock it.”

In the interview, the Apple VP senior vice president of software engineering also talked more about the special disable function and whether the technology will work with sunglasses. He first mentioned about both of those topics in an answer to a customer question first publicized yesterday.

Face ID replaces the previous Touch ID biometric authentication system.

The iPhone X can be preordered starting on Friday, Oct. 27 and will arrive one week later on Friday, Nov. 3. A 64GB edition is $999 while the 256GB version is $1,149.