Phil Schiller says all of Face ID’s competitors ‘stink’

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Phil Schiller answers some of our biggest questions about Apple products.
Phil Schiller says iPhone X will dictate the direction of smartphones for the next decade.
Photo: Apple

Apple marketing guru Phil Schiller has heard the haters saying the iPhone X wasn’t the first smartphone to get facial recognition. But according to Schiller, that doesn’t matter at all.

“They all stink,” says Schiller in a new interview discussing Apple’s new facial recognition feature. The wide-ranging interview touches on everything from AirPods to virtual reality, but what sets Face ID apart is what got Schiller the most excited.

While other smartphone makers have tried to implement facial scanning features with little success, Schiller told Dutch website Bright that Face ID is much more than just a security feature.

The strengths of Face ID

“We’re very aware that through the years the simple thing, this Home button, that started as the way you click to get to the Home screen, grew into doing so many things for us,” Schiller said. “We added Touch ID, it took you to the multitasking screen, paged Siri, activated Apple Pay. So for Face ID we needed the best way we know of to enable us to easily unlock our device with our face, in a protected way with the Secure Enclave, and support all these other things. We had to solve all of that. Other things that people have tried with face haven’t been anything like that. Face ID is a very unique implementation.”

Because it’s a new security feature, some users have been leery about whether third-parties can tap into the facial recognition data. Schiller downplayed those worries, saying developers don’t gain access to all of Face ID’s data.

Augmented reality > virtual reality

When it comes to virtual reality and augmented reality, Schiller says Apple isn’t betting on one technology over the other. The company has spent a lot of time looking at both and how they will impact users’ lives.

For now, Apple is focusing on making the Mac a great place to create and consume VR content. Schiller is much more excited about the future of AR, though.

“They will both exist in the future. It’s not either or, they will both exist,” he said. “AR is a technology that has incredible broad mainstream applications and can have the potential to change almost every major software category that exists. Because here you’re bringing digital information into the real world around us.”

Schiller also talked about the delay of the HomePod, saying the company feels bad it wasn’t able to deliver it in time for the holidays. Apple’s smart speaker should land early next year.