Just when face recognition was shaping up to be the de facto biometric security system for smartphones, the planet was hit with an epidemic that required people to wear masks most of the time. That threw off many face recognition systems, including Apple’s advanced Face ID. instead of return the Touch ID fingerprint sensor to the iPhone, Apple applied workarounds while performing on a more permanent solution. The latter might be coming soon, maybe even on the iPhone 13, and would let Face ID recognize you even when face masks and foggy glasses usually cover your face.
Like most face recognition systems, Face ID was designed to review and recognize a person’s full face, with or without glasses. Unfortunately, face masks already tousled that system, and overcast glasses made matters worse thanks to those masks. One of Apple’s temporary fixes was to truly use an Apple Watch to unlock an iPhone when Face ID failed, counting on an adjunct that not all iPhone owners may need.
The long-term solution, of course, is to upgrade Face ID to be ready to “see through” those masks and glasses. Jon Prosser of Front Page Tech fame reveals exactly that solution being tested among Apple employees. Apple has asked its workers to enrol their faces without masks then test the new Face ID system while wearing masks to be better fine-tune the software for those scenarios.
What makes the test a touch more interesting is that the prototype case getting used for that purpose. Since Apple needs a lot of data, it’s created a special case used on the iPhone 12 to bypass that phone’s built-in Face ID hardware. Interestingly, the sensor array utilized in that case resembles those expected to be housed within the iPhone 13’s slimmer notch.
Gonna come out of retirement briefly to say that it's not modified hardware and it's the same as the one in the iPhone 13 series
Software updates can push this new feature to users of it's not ready by launch here soon 🤙 https://t.co/k01gy69wFs
— McGuire Wood 🪐 (@Jioriku) August 25, 2021
According to Appleosophy’s McGuire Wood, this prototype is the same one that will be used on the iPhone 13 later this year. So no new or modified hardware is required, and a software update could be all that’s needed for Face ID to finally work again, regardless of what’s on your face. The iPhone 13 is predicted to debut in the second week of September, so we’ll soon determine if that will be the case.