The iPhone X’s new all-screen display and even its contentious notch have been sidelined by one new feature that may make its way into future iPhones and iPads. The attention, not to mention criticism, given to the phone’s Face ID biometric security isn’t exactly surprising. Humans have a tendency to be skeptical of new things, especially when new things initially promised the world in terms of security. And now they may have even more reason to be extra dubious of Face ID after a woman’s iPhone X was unlocked again and again by her 10 year old son.
There is no shortage of videos and testimonies trying to prove how fallible Face ID, some of which have already been debunked or explained away. Apple itself, although after criticism already flooded the Web, conceded that Face ID could indeed be tricked by identical twins or very similar looking family members. Which is why the case of Attaulah Malik’s wife Sana Sherwani and son Ammar is particularly curious.
They are neither twins nor even of the same gender. One’s head is smaller than the other. And while mother and son do share some familiar similarities as far facial structure goes, the father insists that his son is often said to look more like him than his mother. Then again, most fathers probably say that.
This also isn’t similar to the case of two look-alike brothers who were able to “train” Face ID to accept the other’s face as an authorized face. This was done by typing in the PIN after failed attempts, which signaled Face ID to sort of composite of the two faces. In the case of Malik’s family, however, Ammar was immediately able to unlock his mother’s phone on the first attempt. Repeated experimentation suggests that Face ID might mistake similar looking faces more easily when it is set up under certain lighting conditions, like low light.
The good news is that it is extremely difficult for strangers and criminals to do such feats, unless they have already obtained a copy of your head. It does, however, pose a problem for families where devices like an iPhone X is within easy reach. But if you have a child or sibling who is prone to knowingly and willingly use your phone without your permission, then you might have a bigger problem at home than just the iPhone X’s Face ID.