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  • About Objecting to Something You’ve Never Used

    October 3rd, 2017

    Lest we forget, the iPhone X hasn’t shipped yet. Although the media had brief exposures to it at September’s Apple event — and perhaps a few selected tech journalists are quietly reviewing them — it’s not on sale. Even when it ships on November 3rd, rumors state that you’ll have trouble getting ahold of one for a while. No surprises there.

    I realize the foregoing should be obvious, but that won’t stop the fear mongering about the potential horrors of Face ID. Some tech pundits clearly get off on discussing things they barely understand, expressing fear, uncertainty and plenty of doubt about a feature.

    Particularly if it’s Apple’s feature.

    So we have yet another article from a certain large tech news portal that starts with a balanced discussion about Face ID and the TrueDepth camera that powers the iPhone X’s biometrics, but soon goes off the rails.

    But the problems really begin with the headline, “iPhone X: Sorry Apple, but I just can’t face using Face ID.”

    I’ve been accused sometimes of using silly puns on my radio shows, but this is just a groaner. That said, any discussion of Face ID technology seems to almost transport you to a sci-fi world. It’s been described over and over in detail. Apple has a useful overview on Face ID that you’ll want to consult for more information.

    So the blog in question quotes Apple’s security overview, that, “The probability that a random person in the population could look at your iPhone X and unlock it using Face ID is approximately 1 in 1,000,000 (versus 1 in 50,000 for Touch ID).”

    That’s the promise, and I certainly can’t dispute the claim without evidence to the contrary.

    At no time does the blogger actually provide facts that demonstrate that Face ID won’t work as advertised. The objections are speculative, based on someone who is clearly not using an iPhone.

    All well and good, but the blogger makes it pretty clear that a fingerprint sensor is preferred compared to something he’s never tried. That leads to some assumptions that don’t appear to conform to what Apple has posted on the subject. So a little research beyond quoting a few tidbits from Apple would have helped.

    Unless there’s an agenda.

    So the blogger points out that other facial recognition schemes are “wanting.” I don’t dispute that. Take the Samsung Galaxy S8, which sports a sensor that was defeated early on with a digital photograph.

    Let me parse this: He’s not using an iPhone, because the fingerprint sensors with which he’s familiar are on the sides or back. But he can manage the process so flexibly that he is capable of just reaching into his pocket and unlocking the fingerprint sensor as he pulls out his smartphone. He can accomplish the same task lifting it from his desk. A single operation lifting and immediately locating the correct spot for that side-mounted or rear-mounted fingerprint sensor.

    A single operation!

    Before I go on, readers, why not give it a try? Lift your iPhone or Android phone and unlock the fingerprint sensor at the same time. All right, maybe his fingers are more flexible than mine, or he’s practiced the maneuver so often that he can do it seamlessly. Clearly an iPhone, with Touch ID activated via the Home button wouldn’t work, but I can certainly reach over to my desk, place my thumb over the Home button, and unlock my iPhone. But lifting it requires a separate step.

    Or maybe I just won’t understand where he’s going with that procedure.

    In any case, his argument against Face ID is that, “I need to look at the phone before it opens.” Just as you need to touch the fingerprint sensor before smartphones so equipped open. All right.

    Is this maneuver easier to accomplish with your fingers or your face? I put it to you!

    I cannot begin to tell you how flexibly Face ID operates because I haven’t had the chance to try it. But I will when I have the opportunity. Then I will be able to tell you, with direct knowledge, how well it seems to work. I can speak knowledgeably on Touch ID, because I’ve been using iPhones with that feature for several years, and at no time can I pull one out of my pocket and, without some uncomfortable maneuvering, unlock it at the same time, perfectly, accurately.

    So the problem here is that people with clumsy fingers, make that normal fingers and normal dexterity, may not be able to unlock their iPhones or Android phones in a single seamless maneuver. Bloggers who can are therefore fated to find Face ID to be less flexible.



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