Siblings claim they fooled Face ID on iPhone X


Spot the difference.
Photo: Rinat Khanov

With the iPhone X making its way into customers’ sweaty hands, users can finally start putting the new handset through its paces. First priority? Coming up with a way to beat Face ID, apparently.

One developer claims to have already done it. But don’t get too concerned about any “Face-gate” just yet!

Beating Face ID

Rinat Khanov claims he was able to access his brother’s iPhone X using the Face ID feature by training it to recognize his face as his brother’s.

In the event that Face ID does not recognize an individual, it asks them to enter their passcode (a problem that befell Craig Federighi during the iPhone X keynote, after other individuals had been using the demo iPhone.)

However, rather than the passcode simply circumventing Face ID to unlock the device, the iPhone X apparently assumes the person unlocking the phone is the owner. The iPhone X’s sensors apparently capture the user’s face, using the new data as a correction signal for the neural network that powers Face ID.

This continual adaptation is a feature, not a bug: Unlike a fixed biometric feature such as a fingerprint, a person’s face can change on a daily basis. Updating the Face ID models means iPhone X can identify its owner if they’re wearing sunglasses, have grown a beard, etc.

“Apple said during the iPhone X keynote that Face ID system is constantly learning and adjusts to the way user looks,” Khanov told Cult of Mac. “My brother did set up Face ID for his face, but I ended up using the device for a few hours [by] manually entering the passcode. Face ID gradually learnt and started recognizing me as him. For what it’s worth, I had another friend — who is not our relative — using the same device in the same pattern as me, and Face ID didn’t learn to recognize him.”

Whether this is accurate remains to be seen. It’s likely we’ll hear plenty of similar stories in coming days, as people try to get around Face ID in multiple ways.

So far, security experts seem to be generally impressed by what the technology has to offer. Apple claims that the chance of two people having enough physical resemblance to beat the system is roughly one in 1,000,000.

Do you think the issue is a legitimate one? Is it even an issue at all, given that both brothers already know the passcode for logging in to the device? Leave your comments below.


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