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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2001
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    Face ID vs Touch ID


    Besides “the notch” the other X’s other distinguishing feature (aside from the heart stopping price tag) is its facial recognition; Face ID.

    What makes it especially interesting, is that Apple ditched their venerabe fingerprint reader, Touch ID to make room for it.

    While I had my reservations about it when it launched around 5 years ago, it’s now one of my favorite things about an iPhone. I love the convenience of being able to unlock my phone while I’m taking it out of my pocket. While the feature was never unique to iPhones, TouchID really helped to popularize and make it a common feature.

    The home button on an iPhone was a seminole part of the user experience, so putting the fingerprint reader there was a great idea.


    I wasn’t crazy about the idea of replacing such a simple and easy to use feature with Facial recognition. To me, placing my phone over the home button is easier that turning my phone on and then positioning it so that it can see my face.

    Still, we tend to look at our phones when we use it. Perhaps the act of placing our finger on the home button before we use the phone is an actually an unnecessary step. Maybe it’s destined to become a vestigial feature like flipping open our phone before we can use it or pulling out the antenna.

    I won’t get into how it works too much, but basically it consists of a projector which puts a pattern of dots on your face and a camera which reads them. The X’s A11 SoC has a special component which can process this information very quickly.

    When you first start using the X you have to train FaceID. Like TouchID, for best results take your time and don’t rush it. Let it learn all the angles of your face; especially the awkward ones.

    How well does it work?

    It actually works quite well. The first thing that struck me is the speed. While I have no baseline of comparison, the speed at which it recognizes your face is fast enough that I find it to be intuitive.

    Further, there is a bit of ‘give’ when it comes to the angle at which it will recognize your face. You don’t have to hold it in front of like you were taking a selfie.

    I tried the selfie camera and compared it with the angle at which FaceID stops working. Its about when the selfie cam sees half of my face. To my eye, this gives FaceID about a 60ish degree angle to work with which gives it a bit of flexibility

    Distance wise it needs to be about 9” away from your face and works even when my arms are fully stretched out.

    It works in a variety of lighting conditions - even in the dark.


    When does it not work?

    There are 2 situations where it has trouble and one where it doesn’t at all.

    It doesn’t seem to like when I’m lying in bed with my head arched forwards - I guess it doesn't know where my extra chins came from. It also struggles occasionally if your face has a strong light source behind you but I don't encounter this situation that often.

    However, the time when it never works is when my phone is lying on a desk and I’m outside of the 60ish degree angle that it has to work with. I mean it’s obvious it doesn’t work because it can’t see me, but this wasn’t a problem with TouchID. When this happens, tilting it towards my face is usually enough to get it to unlock.

    This does lead to another problem I’m not crazy about. When the phone is locked it will show you that you have notifications and which app they’re from. The problem is it won’t actually show you the contents of the notification unless FaceID can see you. This plus the ‘doesn’t work when it’s lying on a table unless you’re hovering over it” problem compounds it. It’s especially noticeable if you’re sitting down working and get a notification on your phone like right now as I’m typing this.


    What’s the verdict?

    There’s no “it’s okay for a first generation”-ism here. Apple plain did a great job with it. I lock my phone so that I don’t press the screen accidentally and in case I lose it. So with that in mind I found it pretty convenient.

    I’d like future versions to have a wider range - as close to 180 degrees as possible.

    Still, with all that, the real question for me is;

    Is FaceID more convenient that TouchID?

    The answer is No.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2002
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    I wish they had just embedded a fingerprint sensor into the Apple logo on the back. Too many compromises have been made to the design and user experience to accommodate Face ID. The display is the only thing keeping me from going back to the 8 Plus.

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