Is Apple Saving My Biometric Info? A Look Into the iPhone X’s Face ID
As our smartphones have advanced over the years, so has those device’s need for more and more personal information. For the last few years we’ve been using Touch ID without thinking twice about. Sure, biometric data is being stored about our fingers, but it for the sake of convenience, right?
Although some users provide this info unquestionably, others worry that their personal identity is suffering a security risk. Let’s break down everything you should know about Apple’s Face ID.
Face ID and the iPhone X
Similar to how the Touch ID is recorded and stored, Apple’s new Face ID technology (exclusive to the iPhone X) scans the user’s face using biometric technology to analyze if the person holding the phone is it’s rightful owner. This is accomplished by analyzing very specific facial measurements to ensure accuracy. Apple has even boasted the new feature’s ability to work in the dark (as it uses infrared to scan), it works with hats, beards, glasses and scarves (it’s A11 Bionic chip uses machine learning to realize facial changes) and fails when using a photo (it’s a 3D facial scan). It’s even been confirmed that it works with most sunglasses.
In order for the Face ID to work, you must look at it with your eyes open. So no, someone can’t unlock your phone while you’re sleeping. Another important note is that the Face ID, unlike Touch ID, can only store one face. The new feature isn’t perfect, as noted by some early iPhone X users, but it is impressively accurate.
It may sound cool, but is it safe?
I can understand how this may all sound a bit unsettling considering the tech is new and we are constantly seeing personal data breaches in the news.
Though Apple promises that they have the utmost respect their customer privacy, a philosophy they’ve long promoted.
The data generated when the initial facial scan is done is stored locally in a portion of the device called the Secure Enclave (where the Touch ID data was stored in older iPhones). This encrypted data is not even stored in iCloud, it remains only on your phone.
Know your options
If the Face ID feature is still unconvincing to you, rest assured as this feature is not mandatory to use the phone. Apple has even acknowledged the technology’s limits by requiring passcode entry to permit unfamiliar computer connections as well as a new feature in iOS 11 called “SOS mode”, which disables Face or Touch ID when the user hits the home or power button five times.
There are also plenty of alternatives to the iPhone X and its Face ID. For example the iPhone 8 only utilizes Touch ID and still offers the wireless charging feature. Additionally, iPhone competitors such as Google’s Pixel and Samsung’s Galaxy S8 promote competitive alternative features to that of the iPhone X.
As our personal technology advances, it will be interesting to see how biometrics are used to further our security and convenience.