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Apple’s Struggle to Get the iPhone X to Market on Time (bloomberg.com)
119 points by runesoerensen on Oct 25, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 171 comments

Apple response:


In a statement to CNBC, the company said, "Bloomberg's claim that Apple has reduced the accuracy spec for Face ID is completely false and we expect Face ID to be the new gold standard for facial authentication."

Quote from updated article at least on BBG terminal right now:

Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller said “Bloomberg’s claim that it reduced the accuracy spec for Face ID is completely false and we expect Face ID to be the new gold standard for facial authentication. The quality and accuracy of Face ID haven't changed; it continues to be one in a million probability of a random person unlocking your iPhone with Face ID.”

Giving a rival publication the statement instead of Bloomberg is classic Apple. The spirit of Katie Cotton lives on in Apple PR.

They gave virtually the exact same statement to Bloomberg as well.

Were they given the statement or is Bloomberg quoting what was given to other publications? In either case, if they got Bloomberg to slag themselves I tip my hat to Apple PR.

Typically they are both given the exact same statement, but CNBC was probably given the statement 6-12 hours earlier.

There is a way to read this where both companies are right, depending on which accuracy spec is being referred to.

Apple likely built Face ID to be more accurate than claimed. This is similar to what they did with waterproofing the iPhones, where for one or two years they were built to a higher waterproofing level than they were marketed as.

Imagine Apple's suppliers were building to a 1:2,000,000 accuracy rate, and they were told they could drop the accuracy to 1:1,200,000 accuracy rate. Bloomberg is right that Apple has allowed the suppliers to reduced accuracy, while Apple's statement that there continues to be a one in a million probability of a random person unlocking your phone is also true.

This is an uncharitable reading of the situation though, and I'm mostly inclined to take Apple at their word on this.

Bloomberg has turned into a Apple rumors site ever since the arrival of Mark Gurman. I have no idea why they are doing it and why the need of doing it. After all Bloomberg is straightly not in the news or publishing business.

> After all Bloomberg is straightly not in the news or publishing business.

What do you mean? Bloomberg News was founded in 1990 and has 2300 employees according to Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bloomberg_News

I believe that was an attempt at sarcasm ;)

Mark Gurman's track record is pretty good though.

This kind of information is relevant to the public markets, so it is relevant to Bloomberg.

(irrespective of the overall quality decline in tech reporting)

So a 1 in a million probability, with potentially 30 million phones in use within the next few months....

So like 30 times a day...assuming 1 face unlock per device per day.

The probability of 1 in a million is for a different face to be similar enough to yours to unlock. Unless there are 999 999 other people picking up your phone every day (which would be over 10 people per second), it will essentially never happen.

Also, phone requires passcode after X failed attempts, so even then you can could only try <10 other faces.

1 in a million for a RANDOM face.

Apple admitted during the announcement event that is was quite a bit lessor odds for a biological relative, especially a twin.

If we ignore the twin case, since that doesn’t apply to most people, as long as the odds are better than 1:50,000 it’s still just as good or better than TouchID.

Via Dave Mark http://www.loopinsight.com/2017/10/25/bloomberg-apple-told-s... :

> If reducing accuracy allows Apple to ship, this (if true) is a logical decision. It’s what businesses do. The key is to compromise without reducing quality to the point where it breaks. I think Apple would eat the delay before they shipped an iPhone X that didn’t meet their security standards.

So I don't think this is as big a deal as it sounds. The article makes it sound like they're allowing a half-assed product to make it to market, but it could just be reducing accuracy by a fraction that would be unnoticeable by the majority of uses.

After the password being displayed in the password recovery phrase in osx and many other lapses in quality control I am no longer sure about that.

Though I also hold concern for Apple’s QA decline, the difference between a deliberate modification to alter the resilience of a tent pole feature and a software bug in a massive codebase are significant.

Given that we all know next to nothing about actual performance of FaceID, I see no reason to assume that this will equate to a broken product. We’ll find out when it ships, just as we would if no change had been reported.

I really wish I could mentally dismiss your comment as being from a troll, but truth is, you’re right.

Don't forget about the 1+2+3 issue with the calculator in iOS 11. It's like a QA didn't use the software at all.

This is likely a spec relaxation of certain components that has limited to no impact on the accuracy of the assembly. This is really common in optics where early design decisions get made and carried forward due to schedule concerns because making changes impacts a ton of things further down like reliability, assembly, etc... I don't see this as a big deal it's just making decisions that improve manufacturability and yield while not having much impact on the overall device.

The more likely story is, that Apple set some initial specs for the face ID module early in the development. This was probably a very strict spec, which is of course difficult to match. Fast forward, some months later, as the production devices are coming together and real production devices can be evaluated, the specs can be relaxed somewhat, as Apple now has a clear idea about the specs they need to have a functioning face ID device. Also, the software might be a bit more tolerant to variations in the device. Of course, the revised specs will increase yield too. But that is all what engineering is about -finding out how far you can relax specs and still have a robust working device.

> While a less accurate Face ID will still be far better than the existing Touch ID


Apple claims that Touch ID has a false positive rate of 1 in 50,000, and Face ID has a rate of 1 in 1,000,000. So yes, there’s a lot of room for Face ID to become worse and still be better than Touch ID.

But it will be the false negatives that will by far be the most annoying and noticeable.

I mean how often will it be aimed at a wrong face compared to the right face?

I'm very curious about that. Generally measurements can be tuned in a way that exchanges false positives for false negatives (i.e. increasing sensitivity at the cost of specificity (or precision) meaning the phone can be made to be more sensitive to your face specifically (which is what they advertise with) at the cost of an increase in not detecting your face while it should.)

> But it will be the false negatives that will by far be the most annoying and noticeable.

How do you know that's what it means? You have literally no idea if this report is even true, or what the implications of it would be if it were true.

People are drawing a lot of conclusions from an unsubstantiated report on a brand new unreleased feature for a phone that nobody has yet and has never used in the wild.

I don't worry a lot about my phone having a miniscule probability of unlocking for someone else. I like security, but I don't actually think anyone is after my phone (YMMV).

On the other hand, if I can't unlock my phone quickly and reliably, that's a pain in the ass. I know that, because my kid dropped my iPhone 6s just the right way, and TouchID hasn't worked for months.

I'm just saying that 1 in 10000 (or whatever) false positives is a very poor metric for day to day usability. I agree a lot is unclear, including the data they do provide. Sure, it may still be a killer feature that, in practice is much better and safer than a fingerprint reader, I have no idea.

Touch ID for my right hand usually stops working in a few weeks, and I have to delete and add those fingers/thumb back in. (Probably related to diabetes)

My Google Pixel XL (it's a testing device) has the same issue it seems.

I'm hoping Face ID will be more reliable.

There's more to it than that. Touch ID was already secure enough for most people. With Face ID you lose the convenience of unlocking your phone as you take it out of your pocket and the ability to discreetly unlock your phone without entering a passcode.

But you gain the convenience of unlocking your phone while wearing gloves, having dirty/wet hands, for people with callouses/scarring/other finger issues that have prevented Touch ID from ever functioning reliably (or at all), using a heavier duty cases, etc. Certainly there are tradeoffs here, but arguments to the effect that Touch ID is already the be-all end-all of biometric authentication have a strong odor of argument-from-familiarity. I remember many debates when Touch ID was first introduced that were topologically similar to debates now happening around Face ID. It's not as if Touch ID doesn't have friction points, we've just gotten used to working around them and/or living with them. But that doesn't mean authentication tech is "done".

The ideal of course would simply be to have both (preferably with some user control about using one or the other or both). While some of the functional use space they cover overlaps (as would other methods like retina scanning), it's definitely true that they have use cases which are independent. There isn't any inherent need for it to be a zero-sum game.

However, Apple is already apparently having significant trouble getting the X produced, apparently getting both into it was an impossible reach for this year, and at the end of the day "real artists ship". Touch ID was not refined when it first shipped, it got more accurate and much, much faster over time, it was merely "good enough to get the ball rolling", but at some point that stage of things is needed. It's a tradeoff that's a challenge to get right and people can argue about where the balance is in any given instance, but I think Apple has been pretty consistent about being willing to bite the bullet and get the cycle of refinement going at a stage just before full refinement, and I'm not sure they're wrong, or that the level of refinement they've managed to reach with other products would be possible as quickly without getting it out there and in real world use.

> arguments to the effect that Touch ID is already the be-all end-all of biometric authentication have a strong odor of argument-from-familiarity

Perhaps, but it's entirely reasonable for users to take a wait-and-see approach to anything security related. TouchID, for better or worse, has run the gauntlet. Security researchers have had their hands on it and tried to exploit it. And the vulnerabilities have been minimal. FaceID hasn't undergone any of that scrutiny and we won't know how safe it is until after it's been through that process.

For that reason, I'm advising all the people I know (who ask) to skip the iPhoneX. If it's proven to work well, then I'll change my recommendation​ for the second generation. First-gen Apple products have a history of unforeseen problems (holding it wrong and such) anyways, so it's pretty sage advice to avoid the first incarnation of any new Apple design, regardless of the security considerations.

> TouchID, for better or worse, has run the gauntlet.

Yet if you had a 5S you knew how awesome it was from day one.

I think the point is if you're preordering something with a new feature, you'd better have a lot of trust in the company you're preordering from to deliver on what they promise.

Many people have that trust with Apple, so they're fine with committing in advance. I don't see a big problem with that when they have a very solid track record.

> (holding it wrong and such)

I never met a single person who actually had this issue, and there were literally millions and millions of iPhone 4 devices in the wild. I owned one personally, never experienced it. Few things were as overblown as this.

Apple offered everyone the option of simply returning the device for a full refund, and nobody took them up on it. Why? Because the phone was great and the issue was pretty much non-existent.

> I don't see a big problem with that when they have a very solid track record.

Haha...you obviously don't have much of a memory about Apple first-generation products. There has been early adopter pain on many, many new Apple products, both with new software releases and hardware. Most of the time they've been able to fix problems with software releases, but there have been a few times where that hasn't been sufficient.

> I never met a single person who actually had this issue

Then I guess we've never met, because I experienced it personally. I could easily reproduce the issue--simply touching the wrong spot on the side to bridge the two antennae would make the call drop. Luckily for me, my natural way of holding the phone to my ear didn't involve touching that part of the phone, but it's easy to see how that wouldn't be the case for others. The iPhone 4 was my last straw that pushed me towards the wait-and-see strategy for Apple products. Since then, I've never bought their new hardware less than 3 months after release or installed their software less than 2 weeks after release. It's made life using Apple products so much more enjoyable.

BTW...I don't remember being offered a full refund, only a free case which deteriorated and became unusable long before my 2-year contract expired, so it really wasn't a fix. I eventually just learned to be wary of touching that part of the rim. Cue the joke about the guy who went to the doctor and said, "It hurts when I do this."

> Haha...you obviously don't have much of a memory about Apple first-generation products.

Actually, I do. I stand by my assertion. Most new features Apple introduces are actually fine. Outside of a couple token examples, the "1st generation Apple product" thing is BS.

> BTW...I don't remember being offered a full refund


They had a press conference where they admitted the issue, then made a page on their site demonstrating the issue on every leading phone of the day complete with short demo videos for each model.[0][1] This put other manufacturers like RIM and Nokia into a tizzy releasing their own death-grip press releases![2]

Free bumper cases and refunds.[3]

The rapid evolution of that antenna page via archive.org is really interesting.

If customers aren’t happy with the iPhone 4—“before or after you get a free case,” Jobs added—they can bring back the undamaged phone within 30 days for a full refund. Jobs said Apple won’t charge a restocking fee and that users would be able to get out of their contracts with AT&T.

“We want to make all of our customers happy,” Jobs said. “And if you don’t know that about Apple, you don’t know Apple.”

[0]: https://web.archive.org/web/20100719021135/Apple.com/antenna

[1]: https://www.macstories.net/news/apple-launches-antenna-perfo...

[2]: https://gizmodo.com/5589639/rim-and-nokia-respond-to-apples-...

[3]: https://www.macworld.com/article/1152751/iphone4_antenna_fre...

> Luckily for me, my natural way of holding the phone to my ear didn't involve touching that part of the phone

Then you weren’t affected by the issue. Just like most people.

Anyone could recreate it just by putting their finger in a certain spot. It was trivial to do. I could do it on my phone too.

But it never affected me for the same reason as you. There may be some people who had actual problems, but for most people it wasn’t actually a big deal. It was just a ‘ha ha Apple sucks too screw you king of the mountain’ story that got a ton of press. It was the first one, and right after the stolen prototype.

Subsequent ‘gates’, like bendgate, have gotten something much closer to the attention they actually deserved.

Besides. Is anyone going to preorder one without reading one of the reviews that will come out before preorders go live? If FaceID doesn’t work well we’ll know ahead of time.

Yes I was affected, just less than others. I still had to think about the issue whenever I changed hands or adjusted my grip. Having to keep something front-of-mind is being affected because it's consuming part of your focus.

>> How does Face ID perform when you are wearing sunglasses?

According to their press conference their facial recognition algorithms work with changes such as hair and with glasses.

Only time will tell how well it works in actuality.

With glasses, not SUN glasses. I suspect, also not any large glasses that are IR blocking or ski goggles. Perhaps not outside in the sun with a baseball hat on (depending IR filters and dynamic range).

All of this including the 1:Mil number are up for grabs since nobody has really tried it, but the challenges of 3D structured light matching aren't rocket science.

They said it works with most sunglasses, but not all.

I can already see Luxotica's new Fall line branding: "Face ID compatible sunglasses!"

Don't forget FaceID compatible scarfs, and religious garb like niqabs and burqas!

With sunglasses I think it's kind of adorable that I might have to lift them to prove it's "really me" like I'm getting carded or something.

>>But you gain the convenience of unlocking your phone while wearing gloves, having dirty/wet hands, for people with callouses/scarring/other finger issues that have prevented Touch ID from ever functioning reliably (or at all)

How does Face ID perform when you are wearing sunglasses?

>"Most sunglasses let through enough IR light that Face ID can see your eyes even when the glasses appear to be opaque." Federighi said


Only if the IR filters in the glasses don't work on the IR structured light. You can buy dsark glasses without IR filters, but most nice ones are 99% blocking.

He said most... so 50% of glassess would be sufficient to meet Feserighi's claim.

Do the IR filters in those nice glasses block the wavelengths that the iPhone’s sensors use? I imagine they’re aimed at blocking the sun which is probably not the same spectrum.

They are broad band IR filters because those are easier to design. Apple is likely using a very narrow band that doesn't have sun problems (see IR window from 8-14nm). https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Infrared_window

However that nice band also gets filtered by polycarbonate which is common in sun and protective glasses. It also gets heavily cut by other typical IR absorbers, and creating a pass window will cost more money.

Thanks for the info. It will be interesting to see how it plays out once this thing is released.

Sunglasses are meant to block UV, not IR ;-)

Sunglasses prevent the “attention” check that Face ID requires by default, but which can be turned off.


You can use your phone with many gloves (the screen registers touch) you just can't use TouchID

> But you gain the convenience of unlocking your phone while wearing gloves, having dirty/wet hands, for people with callouses/scarring/other finger issues...

What are those people going to do with their fingers once they unlock it? Use their voice to operate the phone? Sounds like a practice in frustration.

Many gloves work fine with a touch screen, but obviously don’t work with fingerprint scanners.

Special gloves that are made to work with touch screens work fine with a touch screen.

I believe what a user really cares about is the false negative rate.

10⁻⁵ versus 10⁻⁶ false positive rates don't matter when it locks out after 10¹ fails.

I’m pretty sure you can tune a parameter to trade off false negatives and false positives. If it has too many false negatives, you adjust it so that it doesn’t. Apple’s false positive rates surely come with an implied “at some acceptably small false negative rate.”

Here's the thing. Fingerprints are uniformly random [1]. Faces aren't. Your average Joe can't use a global online database of fingerprints to find ones that might be "close" to the owners to try to fool it, and that's only after you have the owners fingerprint, not a straightforward task. For faces that database is literally called FACEbook, and getting a picture of the owners face is trivial. And faces aren't random at all: sometimes even distant relatives look alike.

I'm not saying that the 1/1M faceid false positive rate is wrong for the general population, I'm saying that the attack vectors to reduce that number by large factors are much easier and readily available than for touchid.

[1]: Citation needed, I know.

Edit: Apparently I didn't make it clear that I don't think attack vector is to show it a 2D photo (if you had a photo of the owner why would facebook even come into this?), the attack vector is to find a lookalike using 2D photos and show the phone their face in person. Facebook's role is to find the lookalike. This should be trivial to socially engineer after you find the person.

If their number is correct, there are only about 7,000 lookalikes on the planet for any given user. Tracking one down and convincing them to participate in your nefarious scheme seems non-trivial. And remember that you must accomplish this within a fairly short time period (48 hours?) and two failures will lock you out for good.

If you’re the target of an attack by a sophisticated organization like an intelligence agency or a large industrial espionage operation, they might be able to pull this off. Common criminals will just break the phone up for parts. And either way, it’s better than fingerprints.

> convincing them to participate in your nefarious scheme seems non-trivial

Actually this would be the easiest part. E.g. A courier knocks a random persons door and says please sign here and shoves a clipboard in their face (that happens to have a faceid-sized hole in the metal frame) then hands them a random package. Done. No convincing needed, worst case they're confused for a day about why they signed for whatever you put in the box and who sent it and then they forget about it altogether.

You're right about the 7000, except it's likely that a large fraction of that 7000 lives geographically close to you as most family does. I agree that this will take more sophistication than what a common criminal could pull off, but this opens up a wide range between that and state intelligence agency that could try compared to TouchId.

I would like to see a security review with more details about how common false positives are given that you only try lookalikes.

That’s an interesting attack. Seems like you wouldn’t even need a lookalike. Just pull that trick on the victim himself!

That's a good point and seems obvious in hindsight, I didn't think of that.

That 1:1,000,000 is for random people. I am really interested in seeing how well it works for members of the same family (not twins). The statement I read seemed to indicate it was less reliable there.

The iPhone X won't look at 2D flat bitmaps of someone's face. It will be looking at a moving 3D map of someone's face.

I've got a bet with a buddy that a properly trained FaceID doesn't get cracked or fooled inside a year or does inside 6 months.

We'll see soon enough, it's a tempting target.

Both of them are basically "logins". They are not secure and they can't be changed ever. Neither can't be a sole security instrument.

Except that Face ID does not work on photos at all. It's a 3d technology and requires the phone's 3d sensors (more than one) for recognising the face.

This number they throw around is such marketing bs.

If we break it down what it really means is "If we take a sampling of the population only 1 in 1 million people will look like you so you're good".

As Schiller conceded in his keynote, any identical twins will need to "deeply consider how much they trust their sibling".

I don’t get how it’s marketing BS, when they described it just like you say.

By the time Apple held their event they would have probably already known this (or the possibility of it).

I wonder if 1 in 1 million is the lower number and originally it was 1 in 2.5 million or something.

Of corse you’re right if they went below the million number there is a lot of room before they get to TouchID accuracy levels.

I had the same thought. It’s likely that the 1 million number is after the change. Either way, the larger point remains.

Again, that number is very misleading. Apple is "lying with statistics" basically.

No attacker trying to break into your iPhone's authentication will use random images. They'll build a profile off your existing online photos, and then try to fool the FaceID system that it's actually you authenticating.

Suddenly that number drops by about three or four orders of magnitude.

This is harder to do with fingerprints because you don't keep your fingerprints online.

People probably don’t post a lot of 3D infrared scans of their face online, which is what FaceId uses.

(They also don’t leave them all over on the things they touch, like they do with finger prints.)

Also, I don’t know of your “lying with statistics” claim is fair. Of course, statistics are a great way to lie since you can have a mathematical certainly that what you are claiming is numerically accurate while at the same time give a false impression through selecting the numbers to present.

However, in this case, the implication is that FaceID is more precise and secure than Touch ID, which is probably true if it works the way they claim. (Well, we don’t really know that yet, but we don’t know the opposite yet, either.)

They’ll pull fingerprints off your phone to defeat Touch ID. Unless the photo attack is substantially better (and given the 3D scanning tech used by Face ID, I doubt it), Face ID is still a win.

Edit: why “again”? What was the last time?

Amusingly that’s where I pulled the ripcord on this article too.

The big question is, did Apple state the 1 in 1 million number knowing that they were having supply issues, meaning that the original component was more accurate? This must have been known in some way before the keynote, so I wouldn't be surprised if this is "old news" as in Apple told supplies to do this around or before the keynote.

Of course we won't know how much things will change from Apple, but I assume it's not a 50% drop (and even if it was, it's still apparently 10x better than TouchID).

This feels like an entirely unnecessary risk. Yes, it would be good to having plenty of iPhone Xs available for the holidays, but they're a year-round seller, and they'll sell a ton whenever they come out.

Feels like a strategic mistake by Apple - the iPhone 8 is pretty underwhelming (should be called 7S) and they were so caught up in the mystique of the ten year anniversary that they had to have something else.

> the iPhone 8 is pretty underwhelming

The 8 might well be a 7s, in all but name, but is hardly underwhelming as compared other incremental iPhone releases in my view.

For me, it's a bigger improvement to my everyday use of the device by a mile than:

6: larger screen (maybe an exception for this reason)

6s: 3d touch; 2nd gen touch ID

7: jack-less; splash proof; shiny option

8: Heavier/premium feel, wireless charging, much bigger performance bump than usual

The 8 is the first phone where the phone can pretty much keep up with my thoughts, which makes it an incredibly different experience. The rhythm of using the device is just an order of magnitude different.

The 8 is forgettably underwhelming on its spec sheet (except speed), a marvel and delight in person. Bottom line for me is that the spec sheet is increasingly irrelevant to my satisfaction with a device.

I also have zero desire to be the guinea pig for all the new stuff on trial in the X.

edited: fixed touch id introduction -- thanks

I had a 6 Plus (which has Touch ID) for the last couple years, bought just before the 6S launched, and my main complaint with it was that I had to build in a slight pause to every non-keyboard touch to ensure that the phone had caught up. This didn't even always work, if it was slightly slower that day. I bought the 8 Plus, as I had no desire to lose Touch ID, and I've been quite impressed with the speed improvement. The pauses are almost always unnecessary, now, and I would say that the phone keeps up with what I want more than 50% of the time, which with the 6 Plus was "almost never".

The 8 Plus camera is also noticeably better even for someone who doesn't pay much attention to photo quality. People have remarked how I've learned to take better pictures. I haven't.

Small nitpick: Touch ID was introduced in the 5s.

Is the iPhone 8 on iOS 11 merely faster than other phones running iOS 11, or faster than, for example, an iPhone 5s running iOS 7?

I think (but this might be my rose-tinted glasses) that every iPhone since the 3GS ran everything at 60 FPS, and that app launches were mostly limited by the launch animation, until each phone got its first major update. The one obvious outlier is the iPad Pro 10.5 with its 120 Hz display, where everything is smoother than it could possibly be on older devices.

I'd love to see data on this that's more accurate than sketchy YouTube comparisons.

I've used iPhones since the 3gs, and the iPhone 8 allows me to be more productive than any modern phone (had the Samsung S4, s5 and an early Google nexus device) I've owned since the blackberry.

I'm sure iOS 12 will slow it down, but for now I feel like my productivity is finally getting back to Blackberry days. My nostalgia for the instant response of those devices has grown over the past few years as phone os's and apps have become increasingly bloated. I really think there'd be a market for an email / messaging only device intended to be carried along side a phone if it did that one thing very well.

It's blazing fast in comparison to a 6 Plus running iOS 10. Doesn't exactly answer your question, but perhaps it's a bit of evidence.

I'm not so sure they will sell a ton. Most of the talk I've heard has been "meh" regarding it. I'm personally holding off until I see more hands on reviews and feel comfortable that I wont be a beta tester for Apple.

I'm really excited for the screen (not the notch). True blacks are where Apple has really suffered. I love reading at night on my iPad but it's a much worse experience than my Samsung tablet with an OLED screen. The move to OLED by Apple is really the biggest thing here that people aren't paying much attention too.

They're going to sell a metric crapload of them, there's really no question given the general sentiment out there.

It's the biggest change to the most popular smartphone ever.

They will sell well, especially in china where the fashionistas want a new iPhone that is noticeably different from the 6/7/8.

From what I remember, the overall smartphone sales in China is stagnating and Apple's marketshare is shrinking.

That’s thought to be one of the reasons why. There are 3 years of phones that are effectively identical looking so if want to show off you have the ‘new shiny’ you really can’t because without close inspection no one can tell.

The X obviously fixes that. There are rumors a big percentage of the supply will be going to China, more than even distribution.

We’ll see.

Ya, the X was definitely designed to solve that problem. I don't think it will be nearly as successful in the west as it is in the east (just like larger phones in general).

"While a less accurate Face ID will still be far better than the existing Touch ID..."

Really? How so? I already know I do not want to have to look at my phone to unlock it.

> I do not want to have to look at my phone to unlock it.

But then surely you're 100% not the target market for any devices which contain Face ID and the accuracy is wholly irrelevant to your life?

What if every single other feature of the iPhone X is appealing to you?

Still doesn’t matter. There is only one way to get those other features and that’s accept FaceID.

It’s no different from the ‘I want a Pixel 2 XL but I want a headphone jack’ problem. The company is only offering you one choice. Go without the headphone jack (or with FaceID) or don’t get the phone and hope for next year.

You know you probably look at your phone whenever you use it right?

It seems like FaceID is an epic pain compared Touch. Most consumers do not care about the 1/50K vs 1/1000k stats. They care about having to put an internet square to their face for access. To me this seems like a huge mistake for Apple. Lack of a home button also seems like a mistake. Both will likely confuse and annoy long time customers and should've been solved with an ergonomic button on the back.

I don't see how Face ID is inherently an "epic pain" unless you're building in the assumption that it doesn't work well. If you instead assume that it works fairly well and your device is unlocked when you look at it, it seems that it could be much more convenient in many scenarios than Touch ID. Like when you're wearing gloves, when your finger might be dirty/wet, etc..

I've used Touch ID since inception, and I can honestly say that I'm excited to explore the different set of tradeoffs that Face ID will bring. What I will grant you is that we don't actually know how well it works yet, but we will soon.

I don't see how Face ID is inherently an "epic pain"

The fact that the phone only allows one face is a deal-breaker for me. My wife needs access to my phone (and vice versa). I'd prefer we don't have to memorize each others long/complex passcodes. With TouchId, this scenario is handled. With a single FaceId, it's a loss of functionality.

I know these comments are generally frowned upon, so I apologize for veering off topic in advance – but I'm genuinely curious.

For the most part, there's no reason for my wife and I to interchange phones at any time. Functionality can be replicated easily between devices to the point where there are zero essential situations where she needs access to my device, or the other way around. Would you be willing to share the use case where your

> wife needs access to my phone (and vice versa)

A few things come to mind...

1. I'm driving, I've started Waze on my phone, and she needs to adjust destination/settings. Same for Pandora or anything else while I'm driving.

2. We're in Europe, and only using a single phone to avoid massive data fees. Verizon is $10/day/phone to use existing data plan, which works well for long weekend trips (longer trips, I'd buy a local SIM and deal with using a different phone number).

3. One of our phones is unusable (forgot it, battery dead, etc), so need to use the other.

There’s no fundamental reason they couldn’t let you add more than one face the same way they let you add more than one finger now.

They said it was one face for now.

We don’t know if that means ‘until a software update next year’ or ‘for this hardware recision’.

I’m hoping for the former. For that use case it is certainly a step down from TouchID.

Sure, but until they actually allow it, I'll stick with a 7 or 8.

My GF who usually use her phone as mirror won't buy iPhone X because it'll unlock automatically every time she holds it to check makeup.

The iPhone 7/8 already turn the screen on when you hold them up, so not sure how it's any worse to unlock.

She could get the black one and use the glass back.

This feature can be disabled.

You have to swipe up on the screen to get out of the lock screen when unlocked...so I doubt it'd stop that use case.

FYI, current iPhones already light up the display when you hold them in a position where you can see your reflection.

> FYI, current iPhones already light up the display when you hold them in a position where you can see your reflection.

That's only if the "Raise to Wake" option is turned on under Display settings.

I heard iPhones have a front facing camera ;)

I always check myself out with the display turned off, works okay for hair. I guess that's what he was referring to.

She can cover the notch with her thumb.

So, not because it's a 1000$ piece of plastic for sending emojis and playing candy crush saga? My my, always when I think I'm doing good in life, I get reminded how westerners always have more money to burn.

Ooops, forgot to say it more ironically, my bad, here's a #firstworldproblems.

I don't see how the Apple Pay use case is going to be anything but awkward - I don't think many payment terminals are at the right angle to do face unlock and NFC at the same time. So I guess there'll be some way to authenticate, then NFC tap to pay or something.. but it'll surely be more fiddly. Apple Pay with TouchID is a perfect UX.

For whatever reason, my finder is to sweaty or dirty for 20% of my TouchID attempts to work. I have to clean the home button with my shirt, clean my thumb, try again. The onstage demo didn't require cradling the iPhone like a babby to get FaceID working -- it can read your face from an angle. This is not like previous, selfie-based face-unlock strategies from other companies.

I live in a major metropolitan area and frequently travel to many others; I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually used Apple Pay. And two of them were at an Apple Store. Where are all these vendors with Apple Pay?

Are you in the US? In the UK Apple Pay works anywhere contactless debit/credit cards work, and banks have been pushing contactless for years now. It's very rare not to see a contactless card machine at a shop here. In London the whole Oyster system is contactless too - so tube, buses etc., and other places are starting to get it for public transport too.

It's much more common not to be able to pay with it because of the £30 limit (again inherited from contactless) than because it's not available.

You don’t have to face unlock while It’s on the terminal. You can do it before.

Either way Apple Pay works much better in the Apple Watch than the phones and I doubt FaceID would change that either way (better or worse).

Interesting you mention the gloves / 'soiled'-fingers scenarios — as those do indeed make it pain to use TouchID! However, they usually also restrict your usage of the entire touch display as well (unless you have ultra-snazzy touch-gloves)... So it might be more of an edge-case, but a good one nonetheless.

I'm also very interested if they introduce TouchID into the next generation's screen. Would be an admission of guilt that the combo of both is the sweet-spot, and is sure to annoy X-gen1 users.

It just doesn't feel ready to me at all.

I've bought gloves at dollar stores that are touch sensitive. In this era, it's table stakes for things that you put on your two trusty smartphone operators. However, exactly zero gloves that cover your fingertips also work with Touch ID (naturally), so I don't think the gloves case is as edgy as you think.

TouchID works fine if the gloves are thin enough. Nitrile lab gloves cause no issues at all.

Not even “soiled”. If you’ve just washed your hands Touch ID will likely not work. Touchscreen works just fine. Pretty annoying.

Yep. This happens to me all the time, and is not an edge case at all. Cooking in particular I think will be a much better experience with FaceId. I'm constantly washing my hands, and (at least on my iPhone 6) this means I'm constantly entering in my ~10 character lock code to have a look at the recipe.

TouchID won't be back until it is built into the entire display for all-touches-can-be-authenticated goodness

> I don't see how Face ID is inherently an "epic pain" unless you're building in the assumption that it doesn't work well.

My assumption is that it will always take longer than just using a button. If it doesn't take longer, then it will be unlocking at incorrect times.

That's why I think it will be an epic failure.

The degree of muddled thinking around Apple's competence never cease to amaze me. Do you really think that Apple went about trying to replace TouchID, a fundamental part of the experience of using their most important product, with FaceID and didn't consider time to unlock as one of the most important engineering considerations?

Apple has made plenty of very questionable design decisions in the past.

I fully expect to be proven correct when this POS is released.

Just a friendly reminder that nobody outside of Apple has actually used FaceID. So maybe we should all shelve the hysterics over hypotheticals until we can base our opinions on actuals.

And given preorders are Friday morning the reviews should be out today or tomorrow. We don’t need to argue about this anymore we’re hours away from people with hands on experience telling us if it works.

> ergonomic button on the back.

That touchid on back is a huge fail from UX perspective. Samsung did it only because they could not do it from front side

Why is that design a failure? My index finger is generally very near the Apple logo on my phone when I’m using it. It would be entirely convenient if the TouchID were there. It would actually be more comfortable than the current location that requires an awkward grip and thumb reach.

I use my phone a lot when it’s lying on a desk, can’t unlock it when the fingerprint sensor is on the back.

Besides, the convenience of TouchID is largely due to it being integrated in the home button, you’d lose that too.

> I use my phone a lot when it’s lying on a desk, can’t unlock it when the fingerprint sensor is on the back.

You can still unlock a phone via its PIN if you don't want to pick it up. (Edit: I have not owned an iPhone since the original. Does the iPhone not provide a PIN option when Touch ID is enabled?)

It does, but if anything that argument is a point in favor of “fingerprint sensor on the back is poor UX”.

It depends, if you consider using the phone while laying flat on a desk as a normal or edge case.

I'm not an UX designer, but I would optimize for the nominal case, rather than choosing a solution that is sub-optimal 90% of the time, but works better for the remaining 10%.

As a long-time iPhone user who had been using Pixel more frequently recently, the unlock phone-on-your-desk use-case is hugely problematic when you have fingerprint on the back and it is a huge pain point. I have a long passphrase for security but even entering a PIN is so 2012.

Fingerprint on the back is a major UX issue. I hope FaceID would work fine at an angle.

> It depends, if you consider using the phone while laying flat on a desk as a normal or edge case.

Seems like a perfectly normal use-case to me. I have it lying on my desk when I'm at work, which is 40 hours a week. I don't want to have to pick up my phone or enter a PIN every time I want to check an incoming iMessage, news alert, etc.

> That touchid on back is a huge fail from UX perspective.

How so? My wife's phone has a fingerprint sensor on the back and it works great. My phone has a retina scanner on the front, and it works less well. Sure, we'll eventually see scanning through the display [1], but until that happens the fingerprint sensor on the back works really well for me.

[1] http://www.freepatentsonline.com/y2017/0257534.html

I have a Nexus 5x and it has a fingerprint sensor on the back and can confirm, works great. Anything else for me is YAGNI

I have both an S7 Edge (fingerprint reader on home button) and I've had 2 Nexus devices (6P and Pixel) with reader on back. I find the fingerprint sensor on the back to be far more user friendly than the awkward thumb button option. As others have said it is a natural location for your finger when holding the phone. Your use case is valid (phone is on flat surface), but the vast majority of people hold their phones during use rather than lay on flat surface.*

*citation needed, but I sincerely doubt this is hard to believe.

* it is a natural location for your finger when holding the phone*

Really? When I'm holding my phone (right hand), my fingers wrap around the left edge and my thumb rests along the right edge. Moving my thumb to the TouchId is easy. Moving my index finder to the center of the back panel is awkward.

> Really?

For me, for 3 years, yes. For you, clearly the answer is no. Everyone is different and that is great.

OP stated:

> That touchid on back is a huge fail from UX perspective.

This is a matter of opinion that was stated as fact. I've used both styles of phone (simultaneously) where the fingerprint sensor is on the thumb/home button v. on the back for a few years now. I prefer the sensor on the back. I am not alone in this opinion. Therefore, it is not a "huge UX fail". That is the point I was trying to make.

Out of curiosity, why do you think so? I've used fingerprint sensor from both front and back, and I find back more natural (my fingers usually rest on the back of the phone).

Not correct. Galaxy S7 has it in the front and it's a pain to use compared to Galaxy S8 which has the touch sensor much more ergonomically positioned at the back.

Source: owned both phones.

Give the Pixel 2's touch scanner a try. It's incredibly fast. I'm amazed every time I use it.

> Both will likely confuse and annoy long time customers and should've been solved with an ergonomic button on the back.

One more reason why the iPhone X isn't "the iPhone" this year. Apple knows this, it's the most fundamental shift in how you use the device since the original iPhone.

Those that feel confused and annoyed can always return the phone and buy the iPhone 8 for less money. Many already have opted to just buy the iPhone 8 rather than wait.

I don't think it's a mistake at all, it's a carefully calculated move to ensure that the vast majority of their customer base isn't alienated by pricing this phone out of reach and making it very clear that this is a glimpse into the future of the iPhone, not the iPhone you know and love.

Surely the iPhone X will be that magical Heisenphone that nobody wants to buy and Apple can’t manufacture enough of!

Well, it is considerably more expensive.

FaceID actually works well and the missing home button doesn't bother. Its actually easier to get to the home screen since you don't have to move your finger from screen to button and back.

>It seems like FaceID is an epic pain compared Touch.

It's a huge improvement if you're wearing gloves or have wet fingers.

>an ergonomic button on the back

This requires you to hold your phone a certain way (at least initially).

I think buying the iPhone X as soon as it is released is a huge gamble, no matter the struggles Apple is going through with FaceID.

If past performance is an indicator, and given the amount of new technology coming in iPhone X, I expect a multitude of problem with the first devices.

Despite its high price, this is the only thing that holding me back from upgrading on day-1.

> I think buying the iPhone X as soon as it is released is a huge gamble

Why? If you don't like it, you have 14 days to return it.

Assuming that the problems will manifest in the first 14 days

If they don’t then you’re covered under warranty for any defects.

If it’s a problem with something like face ID or a hideous screen you’ll know fast. It’s not like the FaceID sensor will ‘wear out’ after a few weeks of usage.

That is not always true. When the iPhone 6 started to "bend" unexpectedly, Apple denied the problem completely and refused replacements until they started to receive bad press for it. Even after that, they didn't acknowledge the problem at all, and claimed that only a handful of devices were affected when in-fact a substantial percentage were. Same thing kind of happened this year with the phone casings expanding.

If a significant hardware issue presents on the iPhone X, Apple will most likely try to delay or deny any fixes or replacements, especially because they are under a struggle to meet the demand as it is.

Or flip it.

"It quietly told suppliers they could reduce the accuracy of the face-recognition technology to make it easier to manufacture, according to people familiar with the situation."

Official statement ?!!?

Reporting from "people familiar with the situation" is the opposite of an official statement

Of course apples problems are all supply related, not demand

All the hallmarks of classic Bloomberg FUD.

swipe up is much more of an effort than a simple tap on the screen.

FaceID really is the feature that is ruining the new iPhone for me. And the fact that its (currently) the sole reason why interested customers can't get one come November is another major dealbreaker (IIRC OLED was a problem too).

Moreover, it brings into question what "Designed by Apple in California" means. Is Apple the misunderstood savant, yearning for perfection, requiring their latest work of art not being shipped/produced without it 100% matching the dreams of the designer? Or, is Apple trying to sell as many units of a functional, brilliant, working product as possible? If they see themselves as the former (and by Job's tone, they do) _why undercut FaceID accuracy_?

Is an iPhone X an iPhone X without the FaceID?

My purchase of this device (compared to the iPhone 8) solely lies on the ability to use an iPhone X without the FaceID. I don't want it and I certainly don't need it. There are also far too many situational "what-ifs" Apple doesn't seem interested in addressing. I've asked a few people and haven't gotten a solid answer if its a requirement on setup of a new iPhone X.

:ed: grammar

> I've asked a few people and haven't gotten a solid answer if its a requirement on setup of a new iPhone X.

I don't know why you would assume this. I think it's very obvious that it isn't. TouchID is also not a requirement for any previous iPhone.

There is nothing about the iPhone X that would require FaceID. If you're happy just using a passcode, then that's your choice. They've given no indicators otherwise.

> They've given no indicators otherwise.

FWIW, a "Genius" at an Apple storefront yesterday told me that FaceID will be required. I brought up the exact same objection that TouchID was not required, but clearly the APIs are different.

The crux of my point remains, however. Apple chose to make FaceID a dealkiller for supply of this product.

Regardless of what you call them, Geniuses are just CSRs, and I think we've all gotten ill-informed information about products and services from CSRs regardless of the company. I would stick to official press releases and copy about the device for accurate information.

There is absolutely no way FaceID is required, I would bet my life on it. It flies directly in the face of the whole "Apple cares about your privacy" thing they've been pushing as of late.

FaceID is not required to unlock your phone. From Apple's FaceID support page in the Privacy section:


"If you choose to enroll in Face ID, you can control how it's used or disable it at any time. For example, if you don’t want to use Face ID to unlock your iPhone, open Settings > Face ID & Passcode > Use Face ID, and disable iPhone Unlock. To disable Face ID, open Settings > Face ID & Passcode, and tap Reset Face ID. Doing so will delete Face ID data, including mathematical representations of your face, from your device. If you choose to erase or reset your device using Find My iPhone or erasing all content and settings, all Face ID data will be deleted."

> (IIRC OLED was a problem too)

Well yes, since the FaceID component is small, and yield issues happen at assembly stage i can see this is easily fixable.

But OLED? There is one, and precisely one manufacturer making it, with limited capacity from the start and no quick fix to it. This manufacture also happens to be making OLED for their own phone.

If the demand of iPhone X is anywhere near as close as other new iPhone, we are easily looking at shortage of phones well past Xmas.

> Apple doesn't seem interested in addressing

Like what? Genuinely curios.


I'm waiting with bated breath for the "quickly press the home button 5 times to disable it" objection, because thats not how real life situations work.

How about this objection:

With attention enabled, how is it any easier for police to force you to look at your phone to unlock it than it would be to grab your finger and force you to unlock your device with your fingerprint? Or beat you until you give up your passcode?

They all require restraining you and applying force, or threatening you until you comply. This is honestly the most ridiculous point.

All biometrics trade a little security for convenience. This is a known fact, it's not new, and it's no different with FaceID than it is with any other biometrics solution ever made.

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