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Apple Reduced Face ID Accuracy To Ease Production, Bloomberg Reports (bloomberg.com) 130

In order to speed up the production of iPhone X, which Apple plans to begin shipping starting November 3, the iPhone-maker told its suppliers that they could reduce the accuracy of the Face ID facial recognition system, Bloomberg reported on Wednesday, citing multiple people familiar with the matter. Earlier reports suggest that suppliers were facing difficulties manufacturing the Face ID system, something that was holding them back from manufacturing enough iPhone X units for the holiday season. From the report: As Wall Street analysts and fan blogs watched for signs that the company would stumble, Apple came up with a solution: It quietly told suppliers they could reduce the accuracy of the face-recognition technology to make it easier to manufacture, according to people familiar with the situation. Apple is famously demanding, leaning on suppliers and contract manufacturers to help it make technological leaps and retain a competitive edge. While a less accurate Face ID will still be far better than the existing Touch ID, the company's decision to downgrade the technology for this model shows how hard it's becoming to create cutting-edge features that consumers are hungry to try. And while Apple has endured delays and supply constraints in the past, those typically have been restricted to certain iPhone colors or less important offerings such as the Apple Watch. This time the production hurdles affected a 10th-anniversary phone expected to generate much of the company's revenue. Apple has denied the claims made in Bloomberg report.
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Apple Reduced Face ID Accuracy To Ease Production, Bloomberg Reports

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  • by orev ( 71566 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2017 @12:25PM (#55430819)
    Apple has already denied it: https://techcrunch.com/2017/10... [techcrunch.com]
    • by orev ( 71566 )
      Maybe they changed some manufacturing tolerance or something, or test procedures, and they could compensate in software some other way. Not the same as reducing accuracy.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      And apple has never lied before?

      • The problem is that News Organization in order to get the Headline over summarize something complex to a point where it is understandable to an 8th grader.
        Changing an engineering tolerance in a part once in mass production is actually fairly common action. This doesn't mean that they will reduce its accuracy as stated in its engineering specifications, but the lower tolerance would mean the mean of the products would reach the lower end of the tolerance range approved before manufacturing. I expect the pr

  • Face ID (Score:5, Insightful)

    by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2017 @12:27PM (#55430833) Homepage Journal
    No one wants Face ID anyway. Apple and the tech industry has completely run out of ideas in the mobile space. You might as well improve profit margins instead.
    • by VY99 ( 5128437 )
      Yeah I'm with you, Face ID doesn't appeal to me in any way shape or form...at this point it seems like they're making changes for the sake of making changes rather than adding value to the user experience.
      • Re:Face ID (Score:4, Informative)

        by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2017 @12:46PM (#55430967) Homepage Journal
        I don't think they have any ideas on how to improve the user experience at this point. It is a smartphone. I can't think of any features that I want that a modern smartphone doesn't have, except for durability. It would be great to have a smartphone that doesn't require a case to protect it from drops.
        • Mostly I don't think Face ID is an improvement to the User Experience, but an attempt to maximize screen space. A fingerprint reader takes a lot of space. Just because we have big fingers.

          • by torkus ( 1133985 )

            A fingerprint reader takes room for Apple because they planned on having it integrated with the screen. WHen they couldn't...the back was likely already formed and committed. Samsung had this strange idea of moving the fingerprint reader to the back (where, TBH, it is FAR more convenient) and it seems to work out just fine for them.

            Apple may be obsessed with screen size but they have a ridiculous notch cut out of theirs...so you lose the full-screen experience anyhow.

      • Problem is, we're at a point where any reasonably recent smartphone has plenty of processing power to do pretty much everything the average consumer wants.

        Apple, Google, Samsung, and others are struggling to come up with ways to distinguish their own hardware and keep people from treating their products as commodities, which would be a disaster for the companies' bottom lines.

        • It seem that they are competing to find out who is able to add more junk to their devices. The fingerprint sensor was fairly ridiculous, but the face identification takes ridiculousness to a higher level.
        • What will be interesting to me is to see where the market is in 5 years - how many people will have realized the $50 phone works just as well as the $800 phone, and how many are still chasing the logo. In a free market, I think you would see the iPhones and Galaxies quickly fade to irrelevance. But the cost of the phones is obscured for so many people by the contracts they sign. Going shopping for phones with someone really opened my eyes. "Why are you getting the $30 phone from Kroger, the Galaxies at Spri
    • yeah, no one wants face id specifically, but people do want a log-in that doesn't require a gesture but still deters at least casual intrusion. that happens to be done by face id, and the face id process/api is probably also going to be used for advertising/content delivery purposes.

      apple's profit margins are already high enough to be the wet dream of every executive in the tech industry.

      • They do? I'm pretty sure everyone is happy with PIN based logins. Does anyone even use Touch ID?
        • They do? I'm pretty sure everyone is happy with PIN based logins. Does anyone even use Touch ID?

          I can only assume you're being sarcastic here. Given the demand this generation has brought forth to automate and voice activate every damn thing, operating technology with as little effort as possible is now a design requirement.

          PIN based logins would require someone to lift more than a finger, which is why I see a lot of people using Touch ID. And Face ID reinforces the fact that now even lifting a finger is too much effort.

          • I'm not being sarcastic. Who is demanding automation and voice activation? The reason there is a current push to automation and voice activation is FOR TRACKING AND DATA COLLECTION PURPOSES. It is amusing you think it is about what YOU want.
            • There's plenty of people, I see them all the time. I know one older woman that refuses to type anything on her phone but is constantly texting with the voice recognition. Usually this results in her having to repeat certain words over and over, before finally giving up and typing it anyway. The resulting message is still often incomprehensible. Oh, she's also one of those who feels like they need the new Galaxy every year. Yes, there are plenty of these people around. You might even find some of them on Sla
            • I'm not being sarcastic. Who is demanding automation and voice activation? The reason there is a current push to automation and voice activation is FOR TRACKING AND DATA COLLECTION PURPOSES. It is amusing you think it is about what YOU want.

              If no one was buying this shit, the automation industry wouldn't be in a constant state of growth. Doesn't matter who started it, or who didn't ask for it, or even what nefarious activity it drives. People DO use automation. A LOT of people. And none of them give a fuck about trading privacy or security for that convenience. Consumers are also lazier than ever, which is another reason automation and voice activation have become insanely popular, and ultimately drive demand. Look at the migration of au

          • Re:Face ID (Score:5, Interesting)

            by Dixie_Flatline ( 5077 ) <vincent.jan.goh@ ... il.com minus bsd> on Wednesday October 25, 2017 @01:11PM (#55431171) Homepage

            Well, and this was the problem in the first place. Apple's stats indicated most people weren't bothering to set a PIN, so the phones were unsecured entirely. TouchID made it possible to provide some modicum of security (as much as 4 digits is gonna get you anyway) while giving everyone enough convenience that they were happy to use it.

            FaceID has the potential to be a much better implementation AND do some interesting things with face mapping and depth mapping besides that (see the minimum-viable-product that is the snapchat filters that more accurately map to one's face).

            • Re:Face ID (Score:4, Insightful)

              by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2017 @01:15PM (#55431191) Homepage Journal
              If most users don't care enough to set a PIN, then why would they care enough about biometric security for Apple to invest money in producing it? Maybe there is an other reason that Apple is pushing this.
              • Re:Face ID (Score:5, Insightful)

                by R3d M3rcury ( 871886 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2017 @01:59PM (#55431509) Journal

                Okay, see, here's the thing:

                A PIN is a nuisance. 99 times out of 100, I'm opening my phone to look at something like Facebook or check movie times or take a picture or place a call or whatever. 1 time in 100, I'm using my phone to pay for something, transferring money between bank accounts, or some other system where I really want to make sure that there's a way for the phone to verify that it's me.

                What I want is some way for my phone to know it's me without me having to memorize some number. Fingerprints, retina scans, face scans, voice-print, whatever.

                Now, yeah, grampa, you can yell about the kids today and how when you were their age you memorized 57 different unique passwords and you were happy! They have no business being anywhere near your lawn.

          • the priorities of the vast majority of smartphone users work like this:

            1: ux: it must be easy to use because stopping to think about a password causes "friction" with my obsessive-compulsive lifestyle. any cognitively perceivable delay between thinking about facebook and posting on facebook must be eliminated at all costs.
            2: material design (no, not the google shit): it sure would be nice to have one in gold, and with a huge fragile screen. thin too.
            3: security: i don't want my partner or kids picking it up

        • Re:Face ID (Score:5, Insightful)

          by hipp5 ( 1635263 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2017 @01:02PM (#55431085)

          They do? I'm pretty sure everyone is happy with PIN based logins. Does anyone even use Touch ID?

          Ah yes, the classic, "this is the way I experience things, ergo I'm sure that's how everyone else does too."

          I use the fingerprint reader on my Android and find it wayyyyyyy superior to using a PIN.

        • Apple uses Touch ID to brick phones repaired by an unauthorized third party. There is always a need to put terror into the heart of Apple customers who don't go directly to the 'Genius' bar when anything scary happens.

    • What? I totally want FaceID! I can keep my Android phone safe while hacking into encrypted iPhones by holding the phone up to someone's Facebook page! Then I can tell everyone I'm Zero Cool!

      • Yeah... this isn't Space Quest III, it's real life.

        Go watch Apple's keynote. Even a 3D mask of your own face should fail to authenticate with FaceID.

        • Phil Schiller said they tested with 3D masks; he didn't say none of the masks fooled it. Still, point taken.
        • by AuMatar ( 183847 )

          And for years hardware makers claimed fingerprints were secure, when they can be fooled by silicone molds. Just because they say it doesn't mean its true.

      • I totally want FaceID! I can keep my Android phone safe while hacking into encrypted iPhones by holding the phone up to someone's Facebook page!

        Other than the fact that's not how FaceID works.

    • I wanted a notch in my phone's display. It wasn't good when they implied the new Applephone would have no bezel. Faceid is just a good way of insuring that people know when watching a video that they have a genuine Apple product, because of that part of the view that is obscured.

    • FaceID means Apple has the "courage" to not to not worry about a fingerprint scanner, so more real estate used for the display on the phone.

      How about a compromise... stick the fingerprint scanner on the back. Everyone is happy now.

    • I like the idea behind Face ID. Being that it is doing a 3d scan of your face, it makes it more secure then a finger print, which is much easier to duplicate.
      Also while the current Face Emoji are just silly. It does open the technology up to doing more interesting types of more practical work. If you are not looking at the device it could slow down the GPU to save battery. Improve accuracy on speech to text, as it can read your lips in connection on what you are saying. The technology could also be modi

      • "Being that your face information IS NOT sent to the cloud, like how the fingerprint reader doesn't send your finger print to the cloud, I don't the security problem with that."

        Riiiight.
        • Being that the FBI had a hard time breaking into an older iPhone, that they had the actual system on hand. And Apple had stated that they do not store the information off the phone, And this phone will need to function in areas where there is no cell or network connections. There is little need to store in the cloud, and just a lot of risk if they do. I tend to take Apples word on this.
          Now they may be sending every time I use the phone, and where I am located, but I doubt they are sending my actual face

        • If the data were being sent to the cloud, you'd have to have an internet connection to use it, and you don't. You can turn wifi off or go into the forest or whatever and all these features still work. The TouchID (and presumably FaceID) systems are stand-alone, on-device only. They don't store pictures, they create a mathematical hash of the data, and then generate a new hash every time you're scanned. The hashes are then compared to see if they're alike, so there's nothing that's stored that can be turned

    • I think Face ID is interesting tech, and potentially makes sense as a piece of the puzzle of authentication. I imagine that eventually there might be a variety of authentication factors that are weighted and considered together, intelligently, to verify a person's identity. For example, your phone could look at:

      * Your fingerprint
      * Your face
      * Whether you're wearing your smart watch
      * Location information (whether you're at home or at work)

      ... and perhaps some other things that I'm not thinking of, and

      • How is this interesting at all? You could have built these types of systems 10 years ago. Do people really think that facial recognition was invented by Apple? Geez. This isn't AI. My car already has what you describe.
        • We've had facial recognition for a long time. We haven't had a lot of compact, practical, and reliable consumer implementations.

          • Really? I had a webcam that did it 10 years ago, and so did my old Windows Phone. Maybe the reason they weren't more widespread is due to the fact no one wanted it. I don't see anyone asking for it, but maybe I missed it.
            • Really? I had a webcam that did it 10 years ago, and so did my old Windows Phone.

              I believe you when you say you had a webcam that did it 10 years ago. I'll even believe that it kind of mostly did an ok job of recognizing that there was a face in the image. Maybe it even could identify people and tell one person from another... kind of... maybe if they looked very different from each other, and looked very much the same from one day to the next. If you changed your hair or grew a beard, it probably wouldn't be able to figure out who you were. If you had a family member with a strong

            • by Luthair ( 847766 )
              I suspect the older webcams would have been easily fooled by a picture of your face whereas the newer devices like Windows Hello or now Apple's Face ID have varying degrees of protection from it.
    • I see Slashdot continues in trotting out the most amazing of luddites, those who predict failures moments before unquestionable success is at hand...

      Consider just one small aspect why FaceID will be a huge boon. How many people with winter coming up in the US will no longer have to take gloves off or use a passcode to unlock a phone? FaceID and touch-capable gloves are the perfect pairing.

      And again that's just ONE aspect of the benefit FaceID brings, which applies to every single person where it is ever c

      • by AuMatar ( 183847 )

        Or just use a PIN like a normal person. More secure, you can lend your phone to friends/family/coworkers as needed.m FaceID is a solution that nobody needs or wants.

        • Or just use a PIN like a normal person. More secure

          You use your PIN in public??? EVER???

          How is that more secure than a face you can't even steal by making a 3D model? I'll bet in the last month 100 security cameras have you entering a phone PIN on video, much less anyone nearby who simply shoulder-surfs the presses and grabs it from you immediate after... can't as easily grab your face now can they.

          • by AuMatar ( 183847 )

            They can very easily grab my face- just grab the phone and hold it up. You really are an idiot aren't you?

            • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

              You are the most insanely stupid person I've come across this week. And I visit Leftist websites, so you have managed to beat a rather high bar.

            • Why are you also looking at the phone with your eyes open in that case which is ALSO required to unlock the phone..

              So you are not just an idiot, but an ignorant one.

              I'll let you have the last word as you are too stupid to bother correcting further, at this point no reader is going to do anything but roll eyes at whatever you have to say.

      • coming up in the US will no longer have to take gloves off or use a passcode to unlock a phone

        No, but you'd have to take the gloves off to answer the phone or do almost any useful work after unlocking it.

        • No, but you'd have to take the gloves off to answer the phone

          Why???? Have you ever used gloves that worked with touch screens? I need to nothing like that to answer a call, I just swipe over as I normally would.

          I can easily operate the iPhone camera with my gloves, including turning on or off a variety of settings, focusing, taking the picture, etc. Typing might be trickier but I can also just dictate if I really don't want to remove the gloves...

      • Luckily it won't be cold anywhere outside of the poles for too much longer. can we go back to using PIN based auth methods for our phones then?

        (This post was not meant to be taken seriously, yet I predict that somehow the AGW / anti-AGW crowd will not be cool about it.)

        ps: That was indeed a shitty pun.

    • No one really 'wanted' any biometric security in their devices, and yet Touch ID ( and similar technologies from other vendors ) is used my millions of people today. Face ID is rational evolution of Touch ID and will undoubtedly become pervasive in all Apple devices and no doubt in devices by other vendors because it's easier.

  • Not only has Apple already publicly addressed this (denied it), they would be insane to change the specs after they've already started selling pre-orders. That would open them to all kinds of consumer advocacy lawsuits.

    This article is high on hype and short on facts.

    • What are you talking about? There are no customer facing "specs" on the accuracy of any iPhone feature like that. Companies can change the design as much as they want, even during production.
      • Yes there is! They gave them during the presentation. They specifically discussed the error rate and compared it to the error rate of touch ID. Go watch the presentation. Don't take my word for it.

        • I'll take your word on that! Companies change the design whenever they want. The iPhone has different components and designs within the same model for example. Companies care about money. You aren't going to be able to dispute their error rate claims anyway.
        • I think that was the chance of two people having a very similar face. Not FaceID specs

        • An error rate based on internal testing and data (and extrapolation/guessing) which they will never show.

          Unless they've shat out a spec sheet, or you can statistically disprove their claim to a high degree of confidence, they can say whatever they want and change whatever they want.

      • The HW behind FaceID, essentially an evolution of the original MS Kinect technology that Apple purchased a few years back, is used for more than just FaceID. Any app intending to use the AR capabilities or simply to scan 3D surfaces would be degraded by any reduction in performance of this feature. Also, the new portrait capabilities of the camera would be reduced. So, deviations in quality of the sensor would certainly have an effect on the end user experience beyond FaceID itself.
    • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

      they've already started selling pre-orders.

      No. Preorders for the iPhone X start this Friday (the 27th). So Apple has not actually taken any pre-orders yet. Carriers might have, but that's a carrier problem, not Apple. Apple has said pre-orders open October 27.

  • Isn't this too much technology crammed into a smartphone? Over 50% of components manufactured being trashed because they fail the QA test? That's really not green, Apple.

  • by dryriver ( 1010635 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2017 @12:41PM (#55430939)
    Precisely _WHAT_ can't manufacturers produce that would "reduce the accuracy of Face ID"? It can't be an electronic chip - face recognition doesn't require special chips. That leaves things like the Face ID camera/lens - surely Apple would check beforehand whether that can be manufactured to spec? I just don't get WHICH component of Face ID is so incredibly hard to manufacture that Apple would need to "reduce the accuracy of its face recognition".
    • I thought Face ID requires a special "AI" chip. Isn't image recognition "AI"? Surely it requires a special "AI" chip!
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Apple have already denied that any change was made to the spec, however, you need to go look at what they've implemented. This is not just "facial recognition using the existing front facing camera". There's an IR dot projector, a FLIR sensor, and convolutional neural network acceleration chip in their implementation - this isn't just Android's 'does this image kinda look like the person' facial recognition.

    • It's apparently the dot projector that's at issue. It's a component that projects 30000 infrared dots onto your face...and it's so small it fits in one part of the notch on the iPhone X. That's bound a high-complexity component at that size.

    • by GuB-42 ( 2483988 )

      It the news is real, that would probably be looser tolerances with optics as a way to increase throughput.

    • FaceID uses an infrared blaster that projects a point cloud of over 30,000 infrared dots onto the surface (often a face) being scanned. If, for example, the infrared dots weren't of the expected intensity, sharpness, or spacing precision, I'd imagine performance of the 3D scan would be degraded. Presumably, SW might be able to correct for spacing precision, but not sharpness or intensity issues. This technology is essentially the same as the MS Kinect v1 device and was acquired by Apple when they purchased

  • by thegreatbob ( 693104 ) on Wednesday October 25, 2017 @12:56PM (#55431033) Journal
    Question is not rhetorical, and I'm really on the fence about it:

    Is biometrics a dead end for authentication/identification purposes?

    Even if it is unequivocally a dead end, is there still merit to seeing how far the rabbit hole goes, for the sake of discovery along the way?
    • Re:Biometrics (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Dixie_Flatline ( 5077 ) <vincent.jan.goh@ ... il.com minus bsd> on Wednesday October 25, 2017 @01:07PM (#55431141) Homepage

      The reason Apple gave for introducing TouchID was that a vast majority of users weren't even bothering to put a PIN on their phone, so giving them an easy way to unlock the phone was better than nothing. There are definitely security concerns, but there's a BIGGER security concern when your phone isn't even locked to begin with.

      FaceID is just a different extension of that. Neither of them is meant to be 100% secure, just somewhat MORE secure. For me, I went from having a 6-digit pin to a passcode somewhat over 15 characters because the overhead of only having to type it once in a while was more than offset by the convenience of TouchID. I simply wouldn't have a passcode that long if it weren't for biometric authentication.

      If I really needed to keep my phone secure for some reason, I'd turn off TouchID/FaceID permanently.

      • giving them an easy way to unlock the phone was better than nothing.

        Not only that, I'm pretty sure you're required to set up a PIN or other password when you set up TouchID.

        • Yes, exactly, you can't have the feature on without a PIN being set. And I think setting a PIN turns on full-device encryption, though that may be on by default now, no matter what. (I'm not sure where they'd get the key from, or what good it would be without a PIN, but still.)

          • Storing the key in plaintext would be fine, since then you only have to encrypt the key when you set the PIN rather than encrypt the whole device (a poor user experience) - would save loads of time. And not knowing exactly how the secure enclave works, I don't know that the key itself would ever have to be exposed to userspace - just unlocked without authentication.

    • No it isn't a dead end. It is the Holy Grail. If companies can use biometrics to find and track you, then can push you ads where ever you go. Oh wait, you thought they were doing it for YOU?
      • by Dog-Cow ( 21281 )

        You would feel better if you took your face off and stuffed it in a paper shredder. No worries about being face-tracked. You'd probably look infinitely less ugly, as well.

    • Is biometrics a dead end for authentication/identification purposes?

      Yes. Leaving aside the fact that, up till now, biometrics-based authentication can be bypassed by woefully low-tech approaches, the fact they can't be revoked when compromised kills them instantly, in my view. But, they make for cool-looking gadgets, which many will pay to enjoy.

    • But like my login name, my face and my fingerprints are available to (almost) everyone. My password, on the other hand, is a secret that I and my phone know, and it exists so that other people with copies of my face or fingerprint or username can't just log in.
    • Basic security principles state that biometrics are best used for a "username", as opposed to a "password". The true "password" would be something you type in.

      However, with mobile devices, there is a "good enough" factor, so fingerprint scanners are used. This has worked well so far, although with Android, one can have some apps be PIN protected, so a fingerprint scan couldn't have access to the entire phone and its contents.

      Is biometrics a dead end? With more sophisticated scanners to get usable points

  • There are always tradeoffs when developing something. Is this really news?

  • I'm curious, what do the suppliers have to do with the accuracy of the system? Is it not entirely software-based? Or is Apple actually licensing someone else's software to do it, and that is the "supplier" they are referring to? Some kind of embedded firmware?

    • Is it not entirely software-based?

      It requires sensors.

    • this isn't "facial recognition" using the built-in video camera. In fact it doesn't use the video camera at all.
    • Apple is not doing this the easily-exploitable image comparison way. Samsung tried that and it was terrible. They've got a projector that paints the face with 30,000 dots, then a height map is created and face analysis is done. That data is converted into a mathematical representation (that can't be reverse engineered, assuming you could even get to it) and compared with the mathematical representation that was already stored.

      No pictures are taken or stored. You're not taking a selfie. That's also why this

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