Quick tip: How to make Face ID more accurate


iPhone X Face ID accurate
Face ID is awesome, but only for one user.
Photo: Ste Smith/Cult of Mac

What do you do when Face ID doesn’t recognize your face? Do you reposition your face? Reposition the iPhone? Stare a little harder at the camera, to tell it you really mean business?

Stop! Instead of acquiescing to your iPhone X’s silent demands, you should use this as a teaching moment (and show your phone who’s boss at the same time). Face ID learns how your face changes over time, but you can also teach it to recognize you better. Here’s how.

How to train your iPhone X’s Face ID to be more accurate

Next time you experience an embarrassing silence when your iPhone X fails to recognize you, like meeting an ex-fling at the inter-office Christmas party and forgetting their name, you shouldn’t try to make yourself easier to recognize.

Instead, take control of the situation and tap in your iPhone X passcode. This tells Face ID that you are in fact you, and that the stupid phone got it wrong. Face ID will then modify its internal model of your face, and better recognize you the next time you present yourself. Over time, Face ID should become more accurate.

This is the same learning algorithm that allowed the Khanov brothers to trick their iPhone X into believing they were both the same person. Our own Luke Dormehl wrote this on the subject:

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.

Sometimes, then, you need to show Face ID some tough love. It might not be easy, but it definitely will make everyone happier in the end.

  • CelestialTerrestrial

    Here’s what it sounds like happened with some of these siblings.

    Sibling One trains the iPhone X and creates their passcode.

    Sibling Two tries to use the phone, but isn’t Sibling One, so it requires a Passcode, so Sibling Two gets Sibling One’s passcode, unlocks it and since it THINKS your Sibling One, it keeps a copy of your face, which is different from the original, but now both Siblings can now unlock the same phone just by looking at their face.

    Then when Sibling One or Two wants to unlock the phone, it can since it’s been trained to recognize BOTH as the owner.

    That’s what would make sense to me anyway, especially if their nose, mouth and eyes look SIMILAR.

    So, my suggestion is don’t give a sibling that looks similar r(nose, eyes, and mouth) access to your passcode and don’t give them any ability to “TRAIN” the phone to recognize their face.

  • RL

    What does the iPhone do if you know your spouse’s and kids’ passcodes and unlock their phones that way? I’m not trying to unlock the phone via Face ID, but Face ID tries and fails anyway. Does this method mean that eventually I’ll be able to unlock their phones just by looking at them?

    Hopefully the phone is smart enough to know that a face is so different from the owner’s that it throws away that particular data even if you unlock it with the passcode.