Face ID on iPhone X: What do iOS app developers need to know?

Apple announced an expensive new edition of its popular smartphone, iPhone X, in September. Subsequently, the company made the iPhone X available in more than 55 countries and territories. In addition to featuring an edge-to-edge OLED display, the iPhone X also comes with a host of out-of-the-box features to challenge the dominance of the Android platform.

At the same time, the special iPhone model also comes with a unique facial recognition system – Face ID. Face ID allows users to use their face as if they were conventional passwords. The face scan system allows the user to unlock their iPhone X simply by looking at the smartphone with their eyes open. You can even use Face ID to keep the data stored on your iPhone X safe and make mobile payments.

However, Face ID on the iPhone X takes advantage of another robust hardware feature included in the smartphone: the TrueDepth camera. Many analysts believe that Apple will soon make the innovative facial scanning system available to other iPhone and iPad models. Therefore, iOS developers need to understand important aspects of Face ID on iPhone X to meet the emerging trend of mobile application development.

Important aspects of Face ID on iPhone X that every iOS application developer should know

Replace Touch ID on iPhone X

Touch ID was an integral part of various iPhone models. The authentication system allows users to unlock their smartphones simply by placing their fingers on the sensor. A user can even use Touch ID to perform various financial transactions and mobile payments. The iPhone X is designed with Face ID instead of Touch ID. Unlike Touch ID, Face ID does not require users to touch their smartphones. A user can take advantage of Face ID to unlock their device simply by looking at the screen. At the same time, iOS app developers can take advantage of the new facial recognition system by simply replacing the Touch ID code with the Face ID code.

Does not make access codes obsolete

Despite replacing Touch ID on iPhone X, Face ID has yet to replace passwords entirely. Apple recommends iPhone X users to use passcodes when restarting the device, the device has been unlocked for more than 48 hours, and the user has attempted an incorrect face match five times. Also, a user must use a passcode to make their iPhone X accessible to friends and family.

Authenticates through TrueDepth camera

Face ID authenticates users through another new feature provided by iPhone X: the TrueDepth camera system. The advanced camera system captures all the characteristics of a user’s face through depth mapping. Additionally, TrueDepth creates a unique face map by capturing over 30,000 invisible dots projected onto a user’s face. Every time a user unlocks their iPhone X, TrueDepth Camera reads the dot patterns through an infrared camera and captures an infrared image. It then sends the infrared image to the Secure Enclave on the A11 Bionic chip. Once the authenticity of the infrared image is confirmed, the iPhone is unlocked.

Use machine learning

The appearance of a user may differ from time to time. Face ID uses machine learning algorithms to recognize changes in a user’s appearance. Therefore, a user can unlock their iPhone X regardless of its current appearance. You can take advantage of Face ID on the iPhone X to unlock and authenticate despite wearing a hat, putting on glasses, and growing a beard. TrueDepth Camera also uses a flood illuminator to identify a user’s face through invisible infrared light when there is inadequate light.

Prevent unauthorized access to devices

Despite identifying different appearances of the same user, Face ID on iPhone X still does not allow other people to unlock the smartphone. When unlocking the iPhone X, the user must keep their eyes open. If the user’s eyes are closed, the iPhone X will remain unlocked. The feature makes it difficult for unauthorized users to unlock the mobile device when the original user is sleeping or away. However, Face ID on iPhone X lacks the ability to identify identical twins. A user has to use a passcode additionally to prevent his iPhone X from being inaccessible to the twin.

No option to register multiple users

Apple further enhances the security of iPhone X by allowing each user to register only one face. Neither user has the option to register multiple faces. Therefore, only one user can unlock and authenticate through Face ID. However, a user can still make their iPhone X accessible to multiple users by sharing their password. Multiple users can access the same iPhone X by authenticating through a passcode instead of Face ID.


In addition to keeping iPhone X safe, Face ID also improves the user experience when performing some basic tasks. The mindful nature of the facial recognition system allows users to perform basic tasks simply by looking at the iPhone X. For example, a user can take advantage of Face ID to check messages and notifications, reduce the volume of the alarm or ringtone, and hold screen on while reading.

Mobile payment facilities

In addition to improving the security of the iPhone X, Face ID will also facilitate mobile payment. It will work seamlessly with Apple Pay. Additionally, a user can take advantage of Face ID on the iPhone X while shopping at physical stores and restaurants that support Touch ID payment. Additionally, applications that support Touch ID will allow users to take advantage of Face ID. Developers can make their existing iOS applications Face ID compatible by replacing the Touch ID code with the Face ID code. However, many banks and financial institutions do not yet fully support Face ID.

Security and privacy issues

Apple implements several security mechanisms to keep facial scanning private and secure. After scanning a user’s face, the TrueDepth camera system stored the information directly on the A11 Bionic chip. Also, Apple does not transfer the information to its server or cloud. Therefore, the information from the facial scan remains only on the iPhone X. Apple also uses the facial recognition system as a robust security tool to keep user data inaccessible and prevent unauthorized access. A hacker in Vietnam recently claimed to have broken Face ID by creating a complex face mask. But several security experts believe that Apple has to make several changes to Face ID on the iPhone X for it to be an effective security measure.

Overall, Face ID on iPhone X transforms iOS app development by replacing Touch ID. But iOS app developers should remember that the facial recognition system is currently only used by one iPhone model. Apple will make Face ID available on the next iPhone and iPad versions gradually. Therefore, developers should explore ways to make their existing iOS applications compatible with Face ID. Also, they must embrace the emerging trends in iOS app development to make their mobile app relevant and popular for a longer period of time.