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.

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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.

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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

coolbreeze Avatar
48 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)
SoApple Avatar
48 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)
theBigD23 Avatar
48 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)
macduke Avatar
48 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)
Amacfa Avatar
48 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)
Chatter Avatar
48 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)

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