Tue. Jul 5th, 2022

5. Apple’s Face ID can’t recognize its dad

Despite its reputation for perfectionism in design and relentless protection of its public image, Apple boasts a litany of screwups in its storied history of keynotes. It’s tempting to highlight a Steve Jobs flub because he’s well known for his Type-A cantankerousness, but I want to direct your attention to the moment when Apple’s VP of software engineering Craig Federighi, the man in charge of the feature, showed off the iPhone’s Face ID feature for the first time.

Prior to Apple’s big 2017 event, there were some privacy concerns around the anticipated addition of Face ID to the iPhone X. No one, however, predicted that it just wouldn’t work.

“Unlocking it is as easy as looking at it and swiping up,” Federighi says in the video as he looks at the phone and swipes up. But the feature fails. Then it fails again. To his credit, Craig switches very smoothly to a backup model that works and he laughs it off. But the failure did little to give people assurance about Apple’s security claims.

When the feature was finally available to the public, many folks had a hard time getting Face ID to work properly. I have vivid memories of my partner screaming “witness me” at her phone for weeks. Eventually, Face ID’s performance improved — just before we all started wearing masks.

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