Apple: Face ID didn’t fail at iPhone X launch

Apple has offered an explanation for an embarrassing glitch at the launch of its most expensive iPhone ever, arguing that the phone didn’t make an error — the company’s staff did.

During the first ever public demonstration of the over $1,000 iPhone X, Apple executive Craig Federighi attempted to unlock the device using the company’s new Face ID feature, which scans users’ faces to ensure only they can unlock their phones. But the feature failed at the Tuesday event, bumping Federighi to an old-fashioned passcode entry screen and forcing him to switch to a backup phone.

Many assumed that the problem was that the Face ID system failed to recognize Federighi. That would be a concerning prospect for a feature that is due to replace the company’s tried-and-tested Touch ID fingerprint reader on its flagship smartphone. But Apple says this was not the issue at all: Instead, the company said far too many people were messing around with the phone backstage.

“People were handling the device for stage demo ahead of time,” an Apple spokesperson told Yahoo, “and didn’t realize Face ID was trying to authenticate their face. After failing a number of times, because they weren’t Craig, the iPhone did what it was designed to do, which was to require his passcode. Face ID worked as it was designed to.”

The news will reassure those concerned that Face ID may not recognize their unique visage, but remains a warning sign for users who fear the feature won’t live up to Touch ID, since more chances for accidental activation means Federighi’s experience may be a common one.

While analysts seem bullish on Apple’s chances with the iPhone X against stiff competition from rivals Samsung and others, whether the lack of Touch ID will be seen as a step back for the iPhone X remains to be seen.

Alex Hern

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