Tech, Now + Beyond

Apple’s new iPhone 8 can recognize your face but what does that mean for you?

Will we be unable to look away from a smartphone that is slowly becoming smarter than us?

It’s no secret that Apple technology has been making advancements towards becoming safer and more secure. After all, iPhones are the most popular smartphone in the U.S. and over 700 million iPhones currently in use worldwide. The launch of the iPhone 8 is set for September of this year and it’s rumored to be the biggest. This version marks the tenth anniversary of the revolutionary smartphone, so there are expected to be some big changes such as its 5.8-inch edge-to-edge OLED display. Another one of those changes may even be able to recognize your face.

Facial recognition technology is already being used to identify individuals in your pictures, but that is just the base level of what this technology can do. Just a few years ago, only the CIA and FBI were known to have access to facial recognition. Now, the new iPhone 8 is said to include a front-facing 3D laser scanner for facial recognition in place of Touch ID to unlock your phone. It would work by analyzing the physical features of your face coupled with an eye scanner to identify you apart from others. Of course, this is only speculation still until Apple confirms what many are curious to find out.

The real question is, should you be excited about such a feature?

When Touch ID was first released with the iPhone 5S followed by the faster second generation on the iPhone 6S, a New York Magazine opinion piece argued that consumers were generally not interested and preferred passcodes instead. I’ve had my fair share of problems with Touch ID and I know I’m not the only one. The sensor can sometimes take multiple tries to unlock, then prompts the user for their passcode regardless after they fail. Another problem is it’s not always easy to angle your thumb the right way.

Facial recognition is said to make this process even simpler, but I for one am skeptical. How many angles will the iPhone have to record just to find the right one that will unlock your phone? If I have to the hold the phone to my face and keep it steady every time or worry about what lighting I’m in, that takes away from the convenience I was expecting. Considering all the times I’ve accidentally unlocked my iPhone using Touch ID when I wasn’t meaning to, the possibility that the iPhone 8 will unlock itself at the mere site of me is even greater.

How many angles will the iPhone have to record until the correct one l unlocks your phone? If I have to the hold the phone to my face and keep it steady every time or worry about what lighting I’m in, that takes away from the convenience I was expecting. Considering all the times I’ve accidentally unlocked my iPhone using Touch ID when I didn’t intend to, the possibility that the iPhone 8 will unlock itself at the mere sight of me is even greater.

The chances of having someone steal your phone with facial recognition are less likely unless you have an identical twin, which and according to speculation, this feature will make the phone more secure. But what’s the next prompt if facial recognition fails? Touch ID also promised increased security against theft without accounting for its continued passcode option. There is no confirmation that the iPhone 8 will also use passcodes or not, but the risk of facial recognition having a 100% accuracy rate is also highly unlikely.

iPhones have expanded as more than a device just to call and make texts from. You have to consider that these devices also contain your wallet and secure information which could be used for identity theft. Contactless payments are just beginning to catch on in the states, but in global cities, like London, these options are more widespread and facial recognition will only slow down payments. Otherwise, this means you will always have to be in your camera’s line of sight; I’m not too keen, considering I get accused of being on my phone too much, as it is.

Technology should always be a growing and expanding market; however, the issue with phones is always more temperamental than the rest. With the potential increase in production costs, Apple may choose to abandon their attempts at facial recognition. Just the thought of owning a $1,200 iPhone already has me concerned about never letting it out of my sight. Not only will we be tied to our phones in more way than one, we will also be unable to look away from a smartphone that is slowly becoming smarter than us.