Apple's Face ID Feature Works With Most Sunglasses, Can Be Quickly Disabled to Thwart Thieves

Apple's new Face ID facial recognition feature will work with most sunglasses, according to Apple software engineering chief Craig Federighi.

"Most sunglasses let through enough IR light that Face ID can see your eyes even when the glasses appear to be opaque. It's really amazing!" Federighi said in an email to MacRumors reader and developer Keith Krimbel (@yokeremote and @keithkrimbel on Twitter) who emailed the Apple exec with a list of questions this morning.


While Apple's Face ID coverage has specifically said the feature works with hats, scarves, beards, glasses, makeup, and other items that might obscure the face, sunglasses were not specifically mentioned. Federighi's answer clears up one of the last major unknowns about Face ID.

Krimbel also asked for details on what would prevent a thief from taking the iPhone X, pointing it at his face, and running off. In response, Federighi says there are two mitigations in place. "If you don't stare at the phone, it won't unlock," he wrote. "Also, if you grip the buttons on both sides of the phone when [you] hand it over, it will temporarily disable Face ID."

In addition to answering these questions, Federighi also commented on the now highly-publicized on-stage Face ID gaffe that saw the feature fail to recognize his face. According to Apple, the software failed because someone else had picked up the phone ahead of Federighi's demo. Federighi says it's not really an issue he had encountered before.

The bio-lockout that I experienced on stage would require several interacts by other people with your phone (where they woke up the phone). For those of us who have been living on the iPhone X over the last months this has never been a real problem (hence my shock when it happened to me on stage! :-)

The Face ID facial recognition feature is designed to replace Touch ID as the new de facto biometric authentication system. While it's limited to the iPhone X at this time, Apple has said it is the future of how we will unlock our smartphones.


For more on how Face ID scans your face, whether it can be fooled, how it works with Apple Pay, and the built-in privacy features, make sure to check out our Face ID post that covers all of the ins and outs of the new feature.

Top Rated Comments

(View all)
Avatar
34 months ago

So then it can easily be used while sleeping. It can easily be used by cops.

It's a convenience. If you hold National Security secrets on your telephone, don't use faceid or touchid. Use a complex password only. Also, don't put servers in mom 'n pop stores either. That's not a good idea.

Seriously, I laugh when people throw out dramatic scenarios about the legitimacy of this. IF A COP POINTS IT AT ME AN RUNS AWAYY, WHAT DO YOU DO THEN HUH? GOTCHYA!!1

I mean, use a complex password if you are planning an attack or something. Otherwise if you want your cat/dick pics to stay safe, you are good with touch/face id.
Score: 75 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
34 months ago
Honestly , the thief in question can take your finger and force you to put it on the touch id. Face ID , Touch ID ... if you're being robbed - chances are- they'll get you to open your phone.
Score: 46 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
34 months ago

So then it can easily be used while sleeping. It can easily be used by cops.

No it cannot. You need to have your eyes opened.
Score: 43 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
34 months ago

If someone points a gun at me and wants to steal my phone - they can have it. As for disabling it for cops, again if that is a concern, use the password. Jeez some of you people are craycray arguing about this.

I am glad that I can disable it if I want by pressing two buttons. That is new info and thanks MR for asking.

Not even that, but you can:

* Remotely disable it by using Find my iPhone on the web or another device
* Quickly tap the lock button five times, which also disables biometrics for police who, in the US, can't compel you to give them your passcode because it's against the law.

Apple goes to these ridiculous lengths to ensure privacy and security, and people still complain. What's pathetic is that many of these users happily give over all of their personal information to Google every day.
Score: 42 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
34 months ago

I still don't see any real benefit over Touch ID.

They've replaced it with something that's more convenient in some and less convenient in other ways, works slower and has more potential of someone else unlocking it against your will.

You must’ve never got out of the pool or had messy hands and had to use your wet hands on touch ID
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Avatar
34 months ago
If someone points a gun at me and wants to steal my phone - they can have it. As for disabling it for cops, again if that is a concern, use the password. Jeez some of you people are craycray arguing about this.

I am glad that I can disable it if I want by pressing two buttons. That is new info and thanks MR for asking.
Score: 29 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Leaker Claims New 13-inch MacBook Pro Coming as Soon as Next Month

Monday April 6, 2020 2:56 am PDT by Tim Hardwick
Apple will announce a new 13-inch MacBook Pro in May with the codename J223, according to a rumor shared by YouTuber and leaker Jon Prosser. Note: it’s a refresh to the current 13” So the bigger 14” display upgrade is a big possibility— Jon Prosser (@jon_prosser) April 4, 2020 Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has said Apple plans to release new MacBook Pro and MacBook Air models with scissor keyboards ...

iOS 14 Could Offer Home Screen Widgets, Wallpaper Customizations

Saturday April 4, 2020 3:30 pm PDT by Frank McShan
iOS 14 could offer home screen widgets and wallpaper customizations for the first time, according to 9to5Mac and Twitter user DongleBookPro. Apple is reportedly working to implement widgets that can be moved freely around like icons on the iPhone and iPad homescreen for the very first time. The feature is reportedly codenamed "Avocado" and no other details are available. It was also...

'Leaked' Images Allegedly Show iPhone 12 With Smaller Notch, Rear Camera Redesign, and Home Screen Widgets

Tuesday April 7, 2020 4:28 am PDT by Tim Hardwick
Two images shared on social media this morning are currently stoking speculation about possible hardware redesigns coming to the iPhone 12 and the potential introduction of Home screen widgets in iOS 14. Shared by Twitter user Fudge (choco_bit), the images depict a front and rear graphical representation of a smartphone with interface elements on the screen, suggesting it came out of a...

More References to Apple's Upcoming Low-Cost iPhone Appear Online

Monday April 6, 2020 4:38 am PDT by Tim Hardwick
Further references to Apple's upcoming low-cost iPhone have appeared online, one on a Chinese e-commerce website and another on Verizon's smartphone trade-in page. Spotted by tech blog MySmartPrice, Chinese retailer JD.com has published a placeholder for Apple's so-called "iPhone 9" that includes a teaser image of a veiled smartphone, but other than that it lacks any particularly revealing...

The New York Times, IFTTT, Medium, and Other Apps Adopt Sign in With Apple Ahead of June 30 Deadline

Sunday April 5, 2020 7:08 pm PDT by Frank McShan
Apps with sign-in functionality, including The New York Times, IFTTT, Medium, and more, have continued to adopt Apple's secure Sign in with Apple feature ahead of a deadline of June 30. The deadline for these apps to support the feature was recently extended from April 30. Sign in with Apple, first introduced in iOS 13, allows users to create accounts for apps and websites using an Apple ID. ...

Some Users Experiencing System Crashes on macOS 10.15.4, Especially During Large File Transfers

Monday April 6, 2020 8:17 am PDT by Joe Rossignol
A sizeable number of Mac users are experiencing occasional system crashes after updating to macOS Catalina version 10.15.4, released a few weeks ago. The crashing issue appears to be most prominent when users attempt to make large file transfers. In a forum post, SoftRAID described the issue as a bug and said that it is working with Apple engineers on a fix for macOS 10.15.5, or a...

Apple Releases iOS and iPadOS 13.4.1 With Fix for FaceTime Bug

Tuesday April 7, 2020 10:06 am PDT by Juli Clover
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 13.4.1, minor updates that come two weeks after the release of iOS and iPadOS 13.4, major updates that introduced iCloud Folder Sharing, a new Mail toolbar, trackpad support for the iPad, and more. The iOS and ‌iPadOS‌ 13.4.1 updates are available on all eligible devices over-the-air in the Settings app. To access the updates, go to Settings > General...

Top Stories: Apple Leaks iPhone SE and AirTags, Apple Buys Dark Sky, and More

Saturday April 4, 2020 6:00 am PDT by MacRumors Staff
With the calendar rolling over to April this week, we yet again saw several leaks and rumors, most notably including Apple itself leaking some references to a pair of long-rumored products: a new budget iPhone SE and AirTags item trackers. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Apple also acquired popular weather app Dark Sky, while Amazon's Prime Video app now allows...

Apple Reportedly Targeting WWDC for Over-Ear Headphones Launch, New 'AirPods X' Later in the Year

Tuesday April 7, 2020 7:00 am PDT by Eric Slivka
Rumors of Apple-branded over-ear headphones have been circulating for quite some time, while more recent rumors have mentioned an "AirPods Pro Lite" that could also be in the works, and Twitter leaker Jon Prosser's recent foray into Apple rumors provides a bit more detail on what we might able to expect for these products. Current Beats Studio3 Wireless and BeatsX On the over-ear side,...

Apple Donating Over 20 Million Masks to Healthcare Professionals, Producing Face Shields With Suppliers

Sunday April 5, 2020 2:51 pm PDT by Joe Rossignol
Apple CEO Tim Cook today shared a video message with an update on the company's response to the ongoing pandemic. Cook said Apple has now sourced over 20 million masks that it is in the process of donating to healthcare professionals around the world. Apple is working with governments to ensure that the masks are donated to the places of greatest need. Cook added that Apple's design,...