Apple’s clever strategy for forcing partners to use Face ID

“When Apple announced the iPhone X last week, the most sophisticated (and widely predicted) feature revealed was the facial recognition approach, called Face ID,” Evan Schuman writes for Computerworld. “But by choosing to go all or nothing with the iPhone X — it’s only Face ID, with no support for Touch ID — the big risk for Apple was that all the companies that support Touch ID in their apps wouldn’t quickly make the move to Face ID. So Apple made the decision for them.”

“If Amazon, Chase, Fidelity or any of the other major companies whose apps use Touch ID as a way to log in without a password had failed to make the move to Face ID, their customers would have been forced to go back to typing in long passwords. Apple, ever mindful of customer experience, chose to not permit that to happen,” Schuman writes. “To make sure that companies use Face ID in their apps, Apple simply didn’t give them any practical choice.”

“‘They have released the dev kit to the world, and it works exactly like Touch ID, from a development point of view,’ said Michael Fey, lead iOS developer for 1Password. The API for Touch ID ‘is the exact same API for how Face ID works,'” Schuman writes. “Steve Schult, senior director of product at LastPass, agreed. “Face ID will work right out of the box,” Shult said. “If we did nothing, the user will be able to use Face ID on our app.'”

iPhone X
iPhone X

“If Face ID proves to have real problems in the field — problems that Apple can’t quickly fix with a software patch — then partners would have justification in exploring authentication alternatives. Still, asking the likes of Chase or Amazon to create their own biometric approach is asking quite a lot,” Schuman writes. “If that happens, Apple will be in a world of hurt, since its high-priced iPhone X units have no hardware means of going back to Touch ID. This would be far more painful than the dreadful problems early in the Apple Maps rollout.”

Read more in the full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: We expect that Apple’s attention to detail – Face ID demos and Apple TV remotes notwithstanding – virtually guarantees that they are damn sure the Face ID hardware is good to go before they begin shipping millions upon millions of iPhone X units.


  1. Sounds more like contrived than clever to me. Really: did we *need* Face ID? Probably not, in my opinion. I understand the logic, and in theory it sounds good: lift your phone, it is automatically ready for input. Still, it is hardly a hassle to put a finger on a device. I’ll be curious to see how it plays out.

    1. I think it had more to do with increasing screen real estate and pushing people into AR like with animojis and SnapFace. They wouldn’t have kept Touch ID if Face ID was a vastly more secure system.

      1. One more thing; TouchID wasn’t all that reliable. Under optimal conditions, it works consistently and reliably all the time. But those optimal conditions are that your finger (thumb) is dry (aside from natural skin moisture), as is the TouchID sensor on your device. If either of them gets wet (washing hands, rain, pool, beach), TouchID will fail and you have to type it in.

        FaceID will, in all likelihood, significantly reduce the percentage of situations where user must type the passcode due to the failure of FaceID, compared to TouchID.

        1. Touch ID never worked for me. I have very dry skin, work with my hands a lot and could never keep TID going. So, FID is all or nothing. I have nothing to loose, so all the whining about loosing TID is meaningless.

          Those who say you lose touch with your banking, etc. don’t know what they are talking about. I have multiple financial accounts, Banks, Broker, cards that couldn’t care less how I access them.

  2. This idea that Apple is forcing devs to add support for Face ID is complete BS. Face ID authentication is surfaced using the same API calls as Touch ID. From a developers’ standpoint there is no difference whatsoever.

    1. I can’t imagine the reason why one wouldn’t use the FaceID (especially for people who actually used TouchID before that), but that’s of course everyone’s personal choice and not a matter to argue.

      You will always be able to type in your passcode to unlock.

    2. I am also not sure why the word “feature” was in quotes (implying that FaceID isn’t really a legitimate feature). By any meaningful measure, implementing a biometric unlocking functionality is quite a breakthrough feature for any kind of device, especially a mobile phone.

        1. That some people may not want to use some feature does not make it less of a feature.

          My deaf cousin will never use Siri, but she very well understands how significant a feature it was when it was introduced.

    1. Not necessarily. They all know they’d never be invited back if they strongly criticized a product. Think about it, when’s the last time any product from any company was truly panned in a major publication? This isn’t about Apple, this is the reality of journalists completely dependent on the good graces of major corporations for revenue. They will not bite the hand that feeds them.

  3. The author of the article is quite the curmudgeon. He seems skeptical of Apple’s reason for why FaceID didn’t work as intended during Federighi’s keynote, even though it was Yahoo’s David Pogue who first seemed to understand what had happened, and only later did Apple explain the situation.

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