Face ID is not perfect, but it has room to grow

Leading up to my initial experience with the all new iPhone X, I was extremely excited for a number of the new device’s landmark features. Chief among these was the X’s gorgeous new OLED display, a first for Apple in their mobile devices. The display is absolutely stunning, but this excitement was quickly stolen by the phone’s new authentification feature: Face ID. What follows is an account of my experience with Apple’s Touch ID replacement.

Initial experience

Setting up Face ID is dead simple, I have no qualms there. In fact, it is actually more simple and easy to do than Touch ID setup of old. I set up Face ID and used it for the first time in the evening, and that lead to a flawless first impression. This is when the potential of Face ID truly shined in my time with it. When it is working as intended, Face ID is, for lack of a better word, magical. It is such an intelligent solution that it feels as if my phone is only made to work with me. It is as if I don’t even have a passcode.

However, my glowing experience must be qualified by saying that this is the case whenever the system is working as intended. This is to say that it absolutely does not work as intended 100% of the time. It is difficult to put a number such as this based solely on personal experience, but it feels to me as if Face ID works as it should about 80% of the time. You may think that sounds pretty good, right? Wrong. That leftover 20% is maddening, but I encourage you to think about this in comparison to the implementation of Touch ID from 2013 until now.

A familiar comparison

Touch ID wasn’t always the nearly flawless authentication system it is today. Back when it was implemented in 2013, it operated as intended most of the time but certainly not 100% of the time. It has seen fantastic improvements and optimizations over the past four years to the point that operation is almost flawless.

With this in mind, I can remain patient with Face ID in its current state with hope that it will improve in a similar way and at a similar rate to Touch ID. I would even argue that Face ID has potential to have a higher ceiling than Touch ID. I say this due to two advantages of Face ID over its predecessor. First, its activation requires less effort in that you only have to pick up your phone to use it as opposed to additionally having to search for a fingerprint sensor with your thumb. Second, your face is less likely to be obstructed enough to inhibit Face ID compared to the constant struggle of ensuring your finger is clean enough for Touch ID to register it accurately.

I understand if you are frustrated with my argument here. Why would you ever cough up $1,000+ to be Apple’s guinea pig for new technologies? I understand this concern, but I also believe that some people will happily deal with initial issues in order to experience the future of mobile device authentification right now. I fall in this camp, but you must make your decision based on your own opinions. Regardless of where you stand right now, I believe that in four years, we will all look back on the introduction of Face ID as a magical game-changing event for the iPhone.

Were you able to get an iPhone X? What has your experience been? Let us know in the comments below.