IPhone X relies on face tech working
DOROTHY of Oz once said there was no place like home and Apple confirmed it.
The tech giant’s new top model smartphone loses its home button for the first time in its 10-year history and it’s immediately confusing.
Yes, the iPhone X looks striking and futuristic, with its bigger-than-ever 5.8-inch edge-to-edge display.
Yes, the display’s colours are brighter and bolder thanks to OLED technology and a Super Retina resolution.
Sure, its stainless steel sides flow seamlessly on to its front and back glass panels, and its ever-so-slightly heavier body feels well weighted.
But how do you use this phone without a home button?
Despite years testing Apple’s handsets, I found myself slightly dumbstruck before it.
Thankfully, the adjustments are easy to make ... as long as someone explains them to you.
To wake this phone, you lift it or double-tap it. To unlock this phone, you look at it while it scans your face.
Moving a finger up the phone’s screen will make the lock screen disappear or get you out of an application, and holding your finger halfway up the screen will show all your open apps.
They’re simple gestures but it will probably take some time for 10-year Apple iPhone veterans to stop pressing the bottom of the screen and quietly swearing at themselves.
And while this change might represent a mild annoyance, there are serious questions swirling around Touch ID’s replacement.
Apple says its advanced, 3D face-scanning technology, Face ID, is more secure, with a one in one million chance someone else can foil it, compared to a one in 50,000 chance with the iPhone’s fingerprint reader.
But, in multiple demonstrations, I watched iPhone experts try and fail to unlock the handset with their first attempt.
That doesn’t mean it’s not secure, of course, but it could mean that you spend more time eyeing off your phone in frustration than just touching your thumb to its big button and using it.
In front of a 1000-strong audience in Apple Park’s Steve Jobs Theater, Face ID failed to unlock the iPhone X handset and instead asked for Mr Federighi’s passcode.
While it worked on the software leader’s second attempt with a different iPhone X handset, some have questioned the efficiency of the critical security feature, which will likely be used many times each day by iPhone X users as they unlock their smartphones.
The error message displayed on stage — “Your passcode is required to enable Face ID” — may simply have indicated that his iPhone X had simply been restarted before the presentation, however.
Ultimately, the success of the Apple iPhone X will hang on the success of Face ID, whether it proves both secure and easy to use.
Potential buyers will also have to get past its price, between $1579 and $1829, and wait until November 3.
Assuming all of those conditions can be met, Apple’s 10th iPhone looks like its most sophisticated and most technologically advanced to date.
Phil Schiller, Apple's senior vice-president of worldwide marketing, discusses features of the new iPhone X.