Increasing numbers of iPhone X owners with children are finding that they are unable to approve family purchases using Face ID. The scale of the frustration was recently highlighted by ArsTechnica, which linked to a page on Apple's support forum containing hundreds of complaints.

Basically, iPhone X users are unable to use facial authentication with the "Ask to Buy" feature, which lets parents approve their kids' iOS purchases and downloads. On iOS devices with Touch ID, parents – or "family organizers", as Apple calls them – can use Touch ID to approve Ask to Buy, but iPhone X owners are forced to enter their password manually on every occasion, which could quickly become a nuisance for device owners with big families.

touch id vs face id
The inability to approve family purchases with Face ID is noteworthy, given that Apple has marketed it as a functional like-for-like replacement for Touch ID, but with enhanced security and speed. The frustration surrounding the missing functionality appears to have come to a head only recently because of the popularity of App Store gift cards over the holiday season.

Face ID is generally very secure in everyday use cases, and while some attempts to fool the feature have been successful, many involve complicated technical methods and a good deal of preparation.

That said, we have seen evidence of a 10-year-old child unlocking his mother's iPhone X with his face, even though Face ID was set up with her face. Apple itself also notes that Face ID often fails to identify between identical twins, while the probability of a false match is higher among children under the age of 13, because their distinct facial features may not have fully developed. These caveats have led some to speculate whether Apple is erring on the side of caution in choosing not to deploy Face ID for family purchase approval.

In early 2013, Apple settled a class action lawsuit originally filed by parents after their children ran up hundreds of dollars on in-app purchases in freemium games. In 2014, the company entered into an agreement with the Federal Trade Commission, promising to provide $32 million in refunds to parents whose children purchased unauthorized in-app items.

Related Forum: iPhone

Top Rated Comments

bdhokie Avatar
59 months ago
I have found that the "Apple Ecosystem" leaves families behind more often than not. They've made good strides in recent years, but some of these little details are unbelievably frustrating for parents. My 13 year old son is increasingly hostile to Apple because of this type of seemingly needless roadblock to ease of use. He grew up with Apple products, but when allowed to choose would rather have anything else. I've noticed his friends also have a growing dislike of Apple - not a good trend for Apple (granted mine is a small, unscientific observation).

If the main point for paying a premium for Apple products and services is that they should "just work", Cupertino needs to rethink recent strategies. I've always been willing to pay for the convenience of the ecosystem, but this is another example of where it isn't working for many of us. At some point, despite my investment, I'll have to evaluate if it's worth it.

On a side note, I just spent an hour having to reset my iCloud and keychain settings for the 3rd time this year, this time to get my new Apple Watch to work properly. Given the many threads where people are having to constantly tweak iCloud to work properly across devices, I don't think the Apple ecosystem is "just working".
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MrGimper Avatar
59 months ago
And we believe Apple when they say Face ID was always the preference and Touch ID under the screen was never an option...
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
MarkB786 Avatar
59 months ago
I had my X for three days now, I will never go back to Touch ID.
You are correct. You will never go back to Touch ID because Apple won't let you. Not your choice unless you downgrade to a slowed-down phone. Gotta love the "Apple ecosystem."
Score: 12 Votes (Like | Disagree)
spazzcat Avatar
59 months ago
And we believe Apple when they say Face ID was always the preference and Touch ID under the screen was never an option...
I had my X for three days now, I will never go back to Touch ID.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
asdavis10 Avatar
59 months ago
Don’t have children (or family). Simple solution.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
aidler Avatar
59 months ago
As I thought from the beginning. It's not that the technology behind Face ID is flawed in any way. I'm sure Apple has perfected it as Apple does every time. But there will be more and more cases that will show that the inclusion of Face ID in everyday use cases of the iPhone was not well-thought through.
Score: 9 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Popular Stories

home app ios 16

Apple Confirms iPad Will No Longer Be Supported as a Home Hub in iOS 16

Wednesday June 22, 2022 12:38 pm PDT by
The iPad will no longer be able to be used as a home hub following the launch of iOS 16, iPadOS 16, macOS Ventura, and the HomePod 16 software this fall, Apple confirmed today. As discovered in iOS 16 code by MacRumors contributor Steve Moser, Apple says that the iPad will no longer be supported as a home hub. This information will be displayed in the Home app after updating to iOS 16.A home ...
apple ar headset concept 2

Apple CEO Tim Cook Hints at AR/VR Headset: 'Stay Tuned and You'll See What We Have to Offer'

Wednesday June 22, 2022 6:34 pm PDT by
CEO Tim Cook this week did an interview with China Daily, where he once again commented on on the future of augmented reality and hinted at Apple's work on an AR/VR headset. Render via designer Ian Zelbo Cook said that Apple is excited about the opportunities available with augmented reality, which is not too far off from prior comments that he's made, but he went on to say that people should ...
customize wallpaper setting ios 16

iOS 16 Beta 2 Tidbits: New Wallpaper Colors, Backup Over LTE, SMS Filtering and More

Wednesday June 22, 2022 2:16 pm PDT by
Apple today seeded the second betas of iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 to developers for testing purposes, and the new betas introduce new features and refine some of the changes that Apple made with the first iOS 16 release. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. Lock Screen Photo Wallpaper Customization When customizing a photo on the Lock Screen, there are two new DuoTone and...
Shazam Music Recognition Control Center

iPhone's Built-In Music Recognition Feature Syncs With Shazam App on iOS 16

Tuesday June 21, 2022 7:37 am PDT by
Since the release of iOS 14.2 in 2020, the iPhone has included a built-in Music Recognition feature in Control Center powered by Shazam. And with iOS 16, and also the iOS 15.6 beta, the feature has received a small but useful upgrade. As noted by Twitter user @someone_andrew, songs identified with Music Recognition in Control Center finally sync with the Shazam app. It also remains...
2022 back to school apple

Apple Launches 2022 Back to School Offer: Up to $150 Gift Card With Mac or iPad

Friday June 24, 2022 5:08 am PDT by
Apple today launched its annual "Back to School" promotion for college/university students in the United States and Canada. This year's promotion offers a free Apple gift card with the purchase of an eligible Mac or iPad, rather than free AirPods like last year. Apple is also offering students 20% off AppleCare+ plans during the promotion. Apple is offering a $150 gift card with the purchase ...
ios 16 lock screen feature2

Apple Seeds Second Betas of iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 to Developers

Wednesday June 22, 2022 10:07 am PDT by
Apple today seeded the second betas of upcoming iOS 16 and iPadOS 16 updates to developers for testing purposes, with the updates coming two weeks after Apple unveiled the new software at WWDC and released the initial betas. Registered developers can download the iOS and iPadOS 16 profiles from the Apple Developer Center, and once installed, the betas will be available over the air. Given...
apple ar headset concept 1

Apple Rumored to Announce 'Game-Changer' AR/VR Headset in January 2023

Friday June 24, 2022 2:52 am PDT by
Apple is "likely" to announce its long-rumored mixed-reality headset as soon as January 2023, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has reiterated. Concept render based on purported leaked information by Ian Zelbo In a detailed post on Medium, Kuo explained that Apple's headset will be a "game-changer" for the augmented-reality and virtual-reality market. Describing some of the headset's...