Follow Slashdot blog updates by subscribing to our blog RSS feed

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Apple IT Technology

Apple Explains Face ID On-stage Failure (bbc.com) 189

Apple has explained why its new facial recognition feature failed to unlock a handset at an on-stage demo (see around the 1:35:58 mark here) at the iPhone X's launch on Tuesday. From a report: The company blamed the Face ID glitch on a lockout mechanism triggered by staff members moving the device ahead of its unveil. Apple's software chief dealt with the hiccup by moving on to a back-up device, which worked as intended. But the hitch was widely reported. "People were handling the device for [the] stage demo ahead of time and didn't realise Face ID was trying to authenticate their face," an unnamed company representative is quoted as saying by Yahoo's David Pogue. "After failing a number of times, because they weren't Craig [Federighi], the iPhone did what it was designed to do, which was to require his passcode."

Apple Explains Face ID On-stage Failure

Comments Filter:
  • by jm007 ( 746228 ) on Thursday September 14, 2017 @01:22PM (#55196519)
    they did rehearse this, no?
    • by courteaudotbiz ( 1191083 ) on Thursday September 14, 2017 @01:25PM (#55196545) Homepage
      I am pretty sure Bill Gates did a rehearsal before connecting a scanner to his W98 PC on the stage when he got a BSOD... Shit happens, and it sometimes happens with the worst timing possible.
      • by jm007 ( 746228 ) on Thursday September 14, 2017 @01:31PM (#55196601)
        here's another truth to consider.... companies won't tell the truth if it makes them look bad.... they spin it so it's somehow okay or at least insignificant; in this particular context of a 'big release event,' how much pressure do you think there is regarding truth vs perception?
        • I am not saying they said the truth. And it probably is a bug that needs to be corrected in the code. There is so much pressure to release products on time that you need to bug-fix soon after release. In this case, who knows what really happened. Maybe they do not even know it yet. But they had to come up with some story for PR purpose. Then you will soon get an update that deals with "too sensitive lockout mechanism"...
          • by jm007 ( 746228 )
            so based on their history of explaining away iPhone/iOS/Apple issues of any nature (see JoeyRox post further down) and using Occam's Razor as a guide, what should a person w/out inside knowledge think? remember this is a $600 device that will be the center of most people's techno-lives and thus a huge personal vulnerability -- should it be ill-designed; does Apple have your best interests at heart or theirs?

            this isn't about being open-minded and an optimist, real life decisions require looking at the d
          • by dgatwood ( 11270 )

            I am not saying they said the truth. And it probably is a bug that needs to be corrected in the code. There is so much pressure to release products on time that you need to bug-fix soon after release. In this case, who knows what really happened. Maybe they do not even know it yet. But they had to come up with some story for PR purpose.

            Yeah, it's called saving face. The only problem is that they saved face afterwards instead of saving everyone's face ahead of time.

    • by Strider- ( 39683 ) on Thursday September 14, 2017 @01:47PM (#55196759)

      As a former Sales Engineer, I always hated doing live demos in front of (potential) customers. Yeah, it's like Milli Vanilli lip syncing, but I would always always push for doing canned demos, or ones that depended on my skill. When something has a 0.1% surprise rate, that means it will happen in a demo 100% of the time.

      • Unless you've ever done a live demo in front of a lot of people, nobody can quite understand how freaky it is to have stuff go wrong like this.

        A company I used to work for did a live demo of a brand new technology at a CES press conference once. Nearly every engineer in the company was on hand monitoring stuff. We must have done a dozen dry runs before the live demo, and that was after testing the crap out of it in the lab. We got it up and running before the presentation and left it running - no stopping o

        • Hell, this is true of anything. I remember one of my first corporate gigs, I installed a few racks of servers, with really nice UPSes. Set up the management software to run self tests, rotated discharge tests, the whole nine yards. Even scheduled the occasional test of 'yank the power cord.'

          What happens the first time there's a real power outage? One of the UPSes flips out, locks up, doesn't transfer over to the battery, and down goes the rack. Never happened again.

        • by Strider- ( 39683 )

          Unless you've ever done a live demo in front of a lot of people, nobody can quite understand how freaky it is to have stuff go wrong like this.

          One of the products I worked with was an auto-acquire satellite dish. The idea is that you assemble the unit, hit the button, and the thing goes and finds your desired satellite in the sky. It was brand new, we were just breaking into that space (if you'll pardon the pun), and we had tested the hell out of it. It was pretty quick, and quite reliable.

          Then we had to do a sales demo in front of a major distributor in East London. We get to London, I setup the thing at the Hotel and check it out, everything's g

      • We used to have a saying: "Do a demo, lose a prospect."
    • by Cito ( 1725214 )

      CNN also reported it doesn't detect black faces

    • by jeremyp ( 130771 )

      You've never done a software demo, have you.

      You can rehearse as much as you like, something can always go wrong.

  • Pass (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geekoid ( 135745 ) <dadinportland@y[ ]o.com ['aho' in gap]> on Thursday September 14, 2017 @01:26PM (#55196557) Homepage Journal

    A device the police can unlock by just showing it to you? pass.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Could be just me, but I never had requirement for the phone to be police-proof. Family-proof - yes, but never had bad experience with police, neither did I consider it as a serious factor when comparing devices.

      • Re:Pass (Score:5, Insightful)

        by ShanghaiBill ( 739463 ) on Thursday September 14, 2017 @01:55PM (#55196845)

        Could be just me, but I never had requirement for the phone to be police-proof.

        But some people do need protection from the police. If you don't speak up for their rights, there will be no one left to speak up when the police come for you.

        You can feel complacent about your freedom only because other people have fought and sacrificed for you.

        • But there's an open question of whether some things need to be police proof, or everything needs to be police proof.

        • There are degrees of protection. This particular attack isn't too bad, because you know that the police are inspecting your phone and if you live in a country with the rule of law then this must follow an recorded evidence chain (and, in fact, a plod showing you the phone to unlock it would probably violate that chain and give you grounds for a mistrial). It's much worse when the police can plug a USB dongle into your phone and dump all of your data for later analysis, because they don't need to notify yo
      • Could be just me, but I never had requirement for the phone to be police-proof. Family-proof - yes, but never had bad experience with police, neither did I consider it as a serious factor when comparing devices.

        I used to think this way, but there have simply been too many cases I've seen where police went far outside their legal authority when dealing with individuals who I know were not doing anything wrong - applying fear and intimidation against law-abiding citizens. Then, on top of that, I've seen police do bad (and possibly dangerous) things when dealing with people who actually were doing something wrong - like walking up from behind a stopped motorcyclist with a drawn gun, carefully held in a way so other p

      • american police are NOT your friends. they can end your life and if they have a bad day, oh boy, it will be your worst day.

        I never talk to cops, I avoid them. and I'm a middle class white guy who never had trouble with the law.

        but I read about what its like 'out there' and I'm scared shitless of those thugs in blue.

        yes, give me phones that are cop-resistant. those guys have ZERO reason to invade your privacy like that, but being thugs who like to get their jollies, they often do abusive things to citizen

    • by RobinH ( 124750 )
      Apparently it won't unlock if your eyes are closed.
      • by geekoid ( 135745 )

        Do they call this feature the "Ravenous Bugblatter Beast of Traal" feature? I hope they do. But more to the point, standing there with you eyes closed all day isn't exactly going to work out.

      • by ghoul ( 157158 )

        Will it open if your eyes are held open with Tape?

        Biometrics as identifiers are flawed because a password can be changed but a body part cant. if your Face ID pattern gets stolen or hacked thats it you can never use any devices which unlock with faceID forever. FOREVER.

        • by RobinH ( 124750 )
          I'm pretty sure anyone who cared (like myself) would just turn off facial ID unlock and use a pass code.
        • by shilly ( 142940 )

          Gosh, if only Apple had anticipated that by not storing your biometric but instead storing a cryptographic hash of some datapoints derived from a mathematical model that won't be the same each time FaceID is re-scanned, just like TouchID.

          • by ghoul ( 157158 )

            30000 points on your face scanned to create a map which is then hashed. If you get hacked and the 30000 point map is misappropriated than what? The attacker can has it on demand.

    • Police and border agents. So no more need to force you to unlock, they just grab the phone, show it to you and search it without warrant. Nice.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by HumanWiki ( 4493803 )

      A device the police can unlock by just showing it to you? pass.

      Face unlock isn't new, not even to Apple.

      People used to show a picture of someone to the 1st gen of this tech and it unlocked easily.

      I actually watched someone unlock an iDevice with another iDevice by showing it their employee roster picture from our company website..

      (you can turn Facial unlock off.. just like with the ubiquitous thumbprint unlock)

      • by Karlt1 ( 231423 )

        I actually watched someone unlock an iDevice with another iDevice by showing it their employee roster picture from our company website..

        How? This is the first "iDevice" that has had facial unlock?

        • My buddy had a Samsung that could do it. Like a Note 4 or something.
          • by Karlt1 ( 231423 )

            It used regular image recognition that could be fooled by a picture and didn't take a 3D image, it didn't work in the dark, it wouldn't work with glasses, hats, etc.

            If I remember correctly, it stored the image unprotected and was accessible by any app instead of being stored correctly.

            The Samsung implementation was nowhere near as advanced.

      • "Face unlock isn't new, not even to Apple."

        Yeah...it is one of those features you say "hey! my phone can do this..." and you never use it again. What the hell is wrong with Apple?

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        Face unlock isn't new, not even to Apple.

        People used to show a picture of someone to the 1st gen of this tech and it unlocked easily.

        I actually watched someone unlock an iDevice with another iDevice by showing it their employee roster picture from our company website..

        (you can turn Facial unlock off.. just like with the ubiquitous thumbprint unlock)

        Which is impossible, since the only iDevices capable fo facial unlocking haven't been released yet.

        Sure, you could jailbreak it, but then that's a stupid unlock

        • cops have usb devices (israel has made quite a few, which I have real issues with, but that's for another thread) that scan ALL the known major phone types and extract data.

          I have a hard time believing that apple phones don't have a hidden backdoor that the israelis have found and sold to the LEOs.

          its the best kept secret. and likely, apple is lying about how secure their systems are. they want us to think that, but I'm pretty sure the LEOs and their little usb stealie device have access to ALL major phon

    • by Karlt1 ( 231423 )

      The police can also force you to put your fingerprint on the phone or has happen in the U.K., Judy tackle you while you're using your phone (https://9to5mac.com/2016/12/05/uk-police-have-a-new-tactic-for-circumventing-strong-iphone-encryption-steal-the-unlocked-phone-out-of-the-criminals-hand/).

      There is nothing that Apple can do to prevent rubber-hose decryption.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        Hit the power button 5 times to disable fingerprint unlock.

        • by Karlt1 ( 231423 )

          That doesn't stop "rubber hose decryption" -- beating you until you unlock the password. Do you think that all police are so above board they wouldn't do that ?

    • by sinij ( 911942 )
      Little do they know, I intend to show my ass to this facial recognition tech.
    • Re:Pass (Score:5, Insightful)

      by sootman ( 158191 ) on Thursday September 14, 2017 @03:12PM (#55197599) Homepage Journal

      1. Your eyes have to be open for this to work. If a cop grabs your phone, close your eyes. If they try to get you to unlock it, open one eye, then the other, until it fails. If a cop grabs your phone, the first thing he'll do is look at it, thus triggering failure #1. It only takes 2 failures to trigger the passcode requirement. https://www.macrumors.com/2017... [macrumors.com]

      2. As we are discussing right here in this very story, if it fails to unlock by face, IT THEN ASKS FOR A PASSCODE. And it WON'T OPEN AGAIN UNTIL THAT PASSCODE IS ENTERED. So you are just as secure as if you were already a passcode-only person.

      This is actually MORE secure than the current thumbprint system, which can ABSOLUTELY be opened if you are restrained. There's no way to close your thumbprint when you're in handcuffs. As has been discussed elsewhere, you can not (in the U.S., generally, blah blah blah) be compelled to give your password but you can be compelled to put your thumb on a device.

      3. Also, there's this: https://www.theverge.com/2017/... [theverge.com]

    • A device the police can unlock by just showing it to you? pass.

      Most insightful post in a while.

      That said, maybe they can kick it up a notch. Unlock when you are smiling, and disk wipe when you are not.

  • by Sherman Peabody ( 147565 ) on Thursday September 14, 2017 @01:27PM (#55196567)

    No one asked for this feature, but Apple wants to give it to us anyway. They have really lost touch with their user base, IMHO, and stray further and further afield. I think it may be time for another visionary but I doubt that Apple's culture will promote one as the old guard holds on for dear life.

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      A lot of people want this feature. It's a cool feature. I suspect many don't realize the security issue.

      • by Altus ( 1034 )

        no more so than thumbprints are really but people are far more likely to lock their phone if they can use a quick biometric test rather than typing in a passcode. Its certainly a lot more secure than unlocked. Lots of people just didn't lock their phone before biometrics were an option

      • A lot of people want this feature.

        I'd debate that.

        A lot of people want a way to unlock their phone quickly and conveniently without using a passcode like 5555 or 1234. Touch ID did a very good job. However, there wasn't a way to have only a screen on the front and still use Touch ID. So it's back to the drawing board. This is what Apple came up with.

        I don't think there are a lot of people who specifically want facial-recognition for unlocking their phones. They just want a more convenient way to quickly unlock their phone.

        • However, there wasn't a way to have only a screen on the front and still use Touch ID.

          And it's impossible to put a fingerprint scanner on one edge of the machine, symmetrically so it's equally inconvenient for left- and right- handers?

          There's a distinct smell of dead rodent over this. Over and above the dead rodent sell that comes as standard with Apple products.

    • No one asked for this feature, but Apple wants to give it to us anyway. They have really lost touch with their user base, IMHO, and stray further and further afield. I think it may be time for another visionary but I doubt that Apple's culture will promote one as the old guard holds on for dear life.

      It's not the 1st time they've had facial unlock... It goes back years..

      https://9to5mac.com/2011/05/18... [9to5mac.com]

      This is just a newer type of face recog.

      • by Karlt1 ( 231423 )

        "They" have never had this feature. This wasn't an Apple feature. It was a third party feature that worked only on jail broken devices.

    • by Jeremi ( 14640 )

      "A lot of times, people don't know what they want until you show it to them." -- Steve Jobs

      (OTOH it's unclear whether a Jobs-less Apple still has the ability to predict what people will want after having been shown it. Time will tell)

    • No one asked for this feature, but Apple wants to give it to us anyway.

      That is what Apple has always done. If they wait till customers are asking for a feature, then that feature is so obvious that everyone will be doing it. So they stay out in front by anticipating needs.

      Since this has made them the world's most valuable company, it is silly to say it is not a smart strategy.

      • by green1 ( 322787 )

        If that were really true, you'd think that just occasionally Apple might do something that everyone else hasn't already done....

        In the past decade or so Apple has never been good at coming up with new inventive features that their competitors don't have. They've only been good at marketing those same features to people several years later.

        Apple is the world's most valuable company because they are excellent at marketing. Nothing else.

    • Apple never does user surveys and asks customers what they want. In Apple philosophy customers are dumb , they do not know what they want. Apple builds it and they come

    • No one asked for this feature, but Apple wants to give it to us anyway.

      Then it will show up in device sales and user surveys. Voice activated login was a thing for a while, going WAY back in time. Maybe that's still a thing, I just don't know of anyone that uses it. If it's broken in some way, and/or people just don't like it, then it will quietly go away. If it works and people like it then that will also show in sales and surveys.

    • by Kohath ( 38547 )

      No one asked for this feature

      Wrong. Lots of people want a secure way to quickly and easily unlock their phone without typing in a code. Most phone users want this.

      The others want to enter a code every time or they don't lock their phone. The phones support all 3 choices. What are you complaining about?

    • No one asked for this feature, but Apple wants to give it to us anyway. They have really lost touch with their user base...

      Users may not have asked directly for an alternative to to the fingerprint reader, but consumer preference for larger screens made it desirable to get rid of the fingerprint reader / home button.

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      I have no issue with them implementing it. It is like gay marriage: I never asked for it. I have no use for it, but if others want to, let them.
      I do not even have use for fingerprinting to open the device.

      It is not as if they removed something. They added something that you can ignore, just like I ignore many programs (apps for you youngsters) on my phone.

  • by JoeyRox ( 2711699 ) on Thursday September 14, 2017 @01:28PM (#55196575)
    Reception issues? You're holding it wrong
    You iPhone 6 display touchscreen stops working? You must have dropped it
    Video display on your Macbook flickering? Isolated, non-systemic incident
  • by PPH ( 736903 ) on Thursday September 14, 2017 @01:30PM (#55196597)

    I didn't think you were supposed to remove it from its shrine. Just gaze at it with admiration. If it deems you worthy, it will unlock.

  • I still don't want the feature. It seems intrinsically unsecure compared with other biometric options. Frankly, not seen a reason to upgrade from my iPhone 6+ yet. I like the edge to edge display, but not at that price point and size. I'd be more interested in something smaller than my current phone but with the same size screen.
    • I want bigger bezels actually, a good place to hold my phone. Currently it's uncomfortable and only has a bezel on the top and bottom that provide enough space for my thumb to push against to hold the phone, but then the weight is off so I can't hold it.
    • by Junta ( 36770 )

      Well not that reasonable... Too many faces is a likely thing to happen in real life. There's just too much stray input for this to be a good idea to have a lockout on...

  • by Spy Handler ( 822350 ) on Thursday September 14, 2017 @01:37PM (#55196657) Homepage Journal

    Apple's explanation sounds like people simply moving the phone around caused the phone to try to authenticate via Face ID, and because the authentication attempts failed, the phone required Craig Federaghi to enter his passcode.

    Seems like the phone could waste electricity trying to face authenticate when no such authentication is wanted.

    • Seems like the phone could waste electricity trying to face authenticate when no such authentication is wanted.

      Doubtful. It probably requires motion to be detected first.

      • Think that through again. How's it going to tell the difference between the phone just being jostled around and the phone being jostled around with a face staring at it? It's not like there's a physical button you can press to signal your intent to unlock so it scans your face on command.
    • by Kjella ( 173770 )

      Apple's explanation sounds like people simply moving the phone around caused the phone to try to authenticate via Face ID, and because the authentication attempts failed, the phone required Craig Federaghi to enter his passcode. Seems like the phone could waste electricity trying to face authenticate when no such authentication is wanted.

      Well, the presentation gave the impression you had to do a pretty deliberate swipe. But since it's just a touchscreen movement as opposed to the physical pressing of a button, well... I dunno. It'll probably be reviewed to death before long. The word "facegate" will be used, you heard it here first. Personally I'm think that worst case on the fail side, you have to enter the PIN. Big whoop. On the security side, I expect someone to either steal my unlocked phone when I'm handling it or if they really want t

  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 14, 2017 @01:38PM (#55196675)

    People were handling the device for [the] stage demo ahead of time and didn't realise Face ID was trying to authenticate their face,

    Just make sure you do not leave it face up on a table anywhere where your significant other, boy/girfriend, kids and/or sibblings or just random other public could be getting into the viewing angle of that camera (sitting down eating your lunch perhaps ? Or just at your desk in class or at work ? Or relaxing on the couch with the phone on the side table ?) ...

    Yet another of those "working well in a controlled environment, but not thought out for real life" "enhancements". :-)

  • The company blamed the Face ID glitch on a lockout mechanism triggered by staff members moving the device ahead of its unveil.

    So basically, they're saying they were holding it wrong?

  • by Hognoxious ( 631665 ) on Thursday September 14, 2017 @01:42PM (#55196713) Homepage Journal

    I mean, who would ever move a mobile phone? Clearly this is an extreme corner[1] case that bears no resemblance to typical usage.

    [1] Rounded, of course.

  • by ItsJustAPseudonym ( 1259172 ) on Thursday September 14, 2017 @01:51PM (#55196793)
    I can just hear the NSA drooling over this feature now. A phone that tries to facial-recognize everyone who gets in range? It must be one of their wildest dreams come true.
  • "...well, if I've sacrificed enough goats and or what not, this demo will work..."

    Yes a hobby project vs. Apple Flagship Project [blah] are different, but this is just boring. At least when Gates BSOD'd, it was the laugh of the day, and not trying to be taken as an accurate representation of every person and product in the company.
  • Accurate demo. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by deep44 ( 891922 ) on Thursday September 14, 2017 @02:30PM (#55197193)
    Accurate demo of just how frustrating it will be to use this stupid feature.

    They obviously started with the idea of removing the home button, and worked backwards from there. Let's see: no home button means no fingerprint scanning ... couldn't go back to passcode-only because they already told everyone how bad that is ... iris scanning didn't pan out for whatever reason ... so ... facial recognition it is. Oh yeah, and swipe up to go home, because it hadn't dawned on anyone to try that before and turns out it's the best approach.
    • Exactly. Pretty weenie Apple, pretty weenie..
    • Right, because passing your locked phone around for people to stare at is a normal usage pattern.

      You'd think how well TouchID was implemented would give people SOME confidence, but who am I kidding.

  • "People were handling the device for [the] stage demo ahead of time and didn't realise Face ID was trying to authenticate their face."

    Everything had already been leaked, yet Apple's overzealous secrecy meant their own staff didn't know how to operate the devices they were being tasked to prepare for presentation. More than ample time/money/staff/resources to train the prep crew appropriately but deliberately chose not to.

    I'd consider this more a management error than the prep crew.

    • I saw the live webcast, and actually the apple guy (don't remember his name) handled it pretty smoothly. Knowing it was a live demo in front of millions of people, the average VP might've hesitated, but demo was smooth overall. He went right back to opening the phone with facial without hesitation just a couple minutes later, so again I would say he seemed confident on how system would behave.
  • and here I thought they were holding the phone wrong.

Administration: An ingenious abstraction in politics, designed to receive the kicks and cuffs due to the premier or president. -- Ambrose Bierce

Working...