How Apple's Face ID facial recognition works

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When Apple launched the iPhone X, one of the new features of the iPhone was the introduction of Face ID which is a facial recognition system.

Unlike other tech giants, Apple has always openly talked about its data collection practices, the reasons behind such collection and how it plans to keep that data secure. Numbers representing all the beams, taken together, create a mathematical expression of the unique contours of the user's face.

That is, if they have the time to activate it when needed.Apple's new privacy site also breaks down its practices on everything from Apple Pay to encryption to health data on the site, offering short descriptions of how it uses data, how it protects data and often adds links to give those interested in more information on its policies.

For those anxious that FaceID could be fooled by a printout of the user's face, or a full-on 3D mask based on the user's likeness, Apple went a long way to safeguard the system against it.

How does Face ID work? "You know every hacker in the world is going to hammer on this", Rich Mogull, a security analyst, said.

There are also several instances when Face ID won't work.

You probably have nothing to worry about if you hurry and pre-order the unusually compact 5.8-inch iOS device early October 27 morning, but if you don't do that, a long wait could be ahead, extending through the holiday season or even 2018. Then Apple begins building the facial recognition system to resist all sorts of different hacking schemes. "It's harder to replicate a face than it is to replicate a fingerprint", Mogull said. The company's first public demo of Face ID didn't go that smoothly, after all - at one point, the demonstrator had to skip the face scan and enter his password instead. If it's a close enough match, Face ID may still save and use this model too.

What if someone makes a really good mask?

Still, in truth, no security technology is completely secure.

"Face ID is created to work with hats, scarves, glasses, contact lenses, and many sunglasses", Apple writes.

"People shouldn't look at this and think it can't be defeated", security expert Peter Fu wrote.

As Touch ID does with fingerprints, Face ID and the TrueDepth camera don't actually store an image of your face. As for Face ID itself, Apple says it has augmented its AI training over its development to ensure that it works accurately across a range of ethnicities, helping to preemptively guard against frustrations and controversies that have sometimes plagued other facial recognition systems.

"You're giving bad guys more and more incentive to try to compromise that secure enclave", he said.

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