Why it’s Such a Big Deal That All of the New iPhones Use Face ID

Wherever Apple and iPhone lead the mobile world follows. The dominance of the iPhone is obvious. In the fiscal year 2017, approximately 214 million iPhones were sold worldwide. Apple took a 51% of global market share. Although competitors do not wish to accept the iPhone’s power, Apple is once again shifting the market. The iPhone will now use facial biometrics rather than fingerprint scans.

The iPhone will now use facial biometrics rather than fingerprint scans.

The technologies behind the iPhone X facial recognition are nothing short of revolutionary. A facial depth map of 30,000 infrared dots is situated in a grid on a user’s face. An embedded sensor and a neural network compare the current facial scan to one held securely in the A11 biometric chip. This process takes only a fraction of a second and cannot be compromised.

Assuming Apple follows their customary technology release pattern, facial scanning is merely the introduction to comprehensive security. Experts agree, securing privileged data is best achieved by isolating the information into hardware and access permitted solely by a comparative biometric scan. Apple began their ascent to the most valuable company in the world by hardware architecture, not software.

The Competition Follows

The shift has started. Samsung’s facial scanning technology has been in the works for some time. The next release of the Galaxy series of smartphones will feature 3D facial scanning. 2D scanning is a stop-gap measure for other manufacturers until their technology is out of beta.

Android is set to deliver 3D facial recognition and face modeling. The AI driven technology is being provided from a trilateral manufacturer partnership of Himax, MediaTek and Megvii. The initiative is targeted at bringing 3D facial scanning to a broader market. Inexpensive 3D scanning is forecasted to replace fingerprint scanning in just a few years.

A depth map for the new 3D technology will launch a grid of between 7,000 and 10,000 infrared dots onto a user’s face. Apple’s technology employs a 30,000-dot grid. The three-company collaboration says the form-factor will be considerably smaller, increasing cost savings. The technology called an “Active Stereo Camera” is being used for alternative applications. Payment authentication, portrait and beautification solutions, and medical services are taking advantage of the new 3D facial scanning.

Just One Biometric Authentication

Apple's biometric technology has transformed the mobile industry.

Apple uses mono-modality to iPhone security, meaning only one approach. First, it was Touch ID which has been part of the iPhone since 2013. The same hardware isolation model was employed on Apple’s fingerprint scanning technology. There have been other models of the iPhone introduced since the X model in 2017. None feature Touch ID. Apple is moving all-in on facial biometric scanning as their principal security system.

Most iPhone competitors use a combination of login technologies. Experts agree, running multiple modes of verification is preferable to an individual technology. However, Apple has their experts as well, and the company prefers to focus on a specific method of access into their systems. Even though Apple did not originate the technology, they were the first company to provide facial scanning in such a high-profile device.

Apple’s biometric technology has transformed the mobile industry. There was a wealth of press before the iPhone X release, questioning how the new Facial Scanning biometrics would fit in with consumer lifestyles. There has been no pushback to the technology. Competitors are again scrambling to catch up to the dominant player in the smartphone market.