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article imageApple explains that awkward Face ID demo

By James Walker     Sep 14, 2017 in Technology
Apple has explained why Face ID failed to work during the company's iPhone X event. The embarrassing on-stage incident was apparently caused by human error and was not a technical problem. The damage has already been done for the new feature though.
Apple introduced Face ID with the iPhone X in a live event on Tuesday. Face ID uses AI-powered facial recognition technology to unlock the phone. It replaces Touch ID on the iPhone X and is claimed to be inaccurate one in a million times.
During the event, Face ID failed to unlock the iPhone when Apple software lead Craig Federighi demoed the feature. After trying twice to get Face ID to work, Federighi had to resort to a backup handset as the main demo phone refused to recognise him. The incident evidently wasn't what Apple had planned.
The company's now explained exactly what went wrong. A representative told Yahoo News that Face ID actually worked as designed. The problems with the demo phone were down to mistakes made while setting up the stage. Apparently, someone at Apple made a mistake as they prepared the phone.
While arranging the device for the event, it seems staff members were handling the phone and inadvertently activating the Face ID feature. After failing to authenticate them on consecutive tries, the phone disabled Face ID and reverted to requiring a passcode.
The new iPhone X
The new iPhone X
© Apple, Inc.
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This is the same behaviour used for multiple successive Touch ID failures. When Federighi came to use the device, Face ID was turned off and a passcode required instead.
"People were handling the device for stage demo ahead of time," Apple told Yahoo News. "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. Face ID worked as it was designed to."
According to Apple then, it wasn't Face ID that made a mistake but Federighi. It seems the embarrassment of the first failed demo caused him not to notice the passcode screen. When Face ID failed for the second time, it was easier to reach for another device than enter the PIN and start from the beginning.
Still, Apple's explanation has come too late to save Face ID. It's already been added to the list of technologies that have failed during their own announcements and had to live through the headlines afterwards. It even triggered a brief dip in Apple's stock price, sending it to its lowest point during the day.
Face ID's also attracted criticism for being a weaker authentication method than Touch ID. There are concerns too that it may prove less reliable in the real world than Apple claimed on-stage. Although it's far more accomplished than previous facial recognition systems, the general concept has a poor reputation for reliability. Even if Face ID is as good as Apple says, there's a psychological barrier to overcome before it enjoys wide consumer approval.
More about Apple, iPhone, iphone X, face id, Security