Face ID and Touch ID: Comparative analysis

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To commemorate the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, Apple introduced a new authentication method for the iPhone X for the first time in 2017. Apple’s Face ID biometric system enables you to unlock your device, make payments, access your personal data, and track Animojis’ facial expressions.

Apple has gained a lot of negative feedback by replacing Touch ID with Face ID, especially from privacy enthusiasts who were skeptical of Apple using facial recognition data.

However, almost all iPhones (except the iPhone SE series) and iPad Pro models released after 2017 have Face ID. It’s common for Apple to offer Touch ID on its baseline products (iPad and iPad mini) and Face ID on premium products such as the iPad Pro and iPhone.

But have you ever wondered how these two authentication methods overlap each other? Does Face ID offer higher security than Touch ID, or what is easier to use between the two in normal use?

Read below for a detailed comparative analysis of Touch ID and Face ID.

Face ID and Touch ID: Behind-the-scenes technology

Before we start comparing Face ID and Touch ID, it’s important to understand how both Apple-patented technologies work. Let’s start with Touch ID.

Face ID and Touch ID-Behind the Scenes Technology

Touch ID

Apple first announced Touch ID on the iPhone 5S in 2013. Touch ID integrated into the Home button provides a pretty convenient way to unlock your iPhone / iPad and authenticate your purchases from the App Store instead of having to enter your passcode every time.

Touch ID is protected by the outermost layer of scratch-resistant sapphire glass. Sapphire glass not only protects the sensor, but also acts as a lens to focus fingerprints on the sensor. Below the glass is a stainless steel detection ring that detects fingerprints when you place your finger on the button.

The sensor uses an advanced capacitive touch to capture high resolution fingerprint images. According to Apple, it scans the subepidermal skin layer using a wafer thin sensor of only 170 microns. This means that the sensor is not scanning the top layer of dead skin. Therefore, make it failproof against artificial fingerprints, amputated fingers, and other duplicate methods of replicating fingerprints.

According to Apple, Touch ID does not store the actual fingerprints, but rather their “mathematical representation.” Therefore, even if someone gets this database, it is impossible to reverse engineer their fingerprints.

Apple uses an advanced security architecture called Secure Enclave to further protect this data. In addition, the device does not store fingerprint data. This data can only be accessed through the Secure Enclave architecture. Therefore, iOS, other apps, or even Apple servers cannot access this data.

Now let’s analyze the behavior of Face ID.

Face ID

Face ID has begun as the next step towards a secure and user-friendly biometric method. Apple’s incredible technology features a complex hardware module that Apple calls the “TrueDepth camera system.” It works with neural networks and the chipset’s Bionic neural engine.

Every time you look at an iPhone / iPad with Face ID, the dot projector projects over 30,000 invisible dots on your face to create a detailed facial map. The flood illuminator will help you detect your face and map it even in the dark.

This data is then passed to a neural network and transformed into a mathematical representation. When you try to unlock your device, Face ID will generate a mathematical representation of your face that matches what you saved during the setup of your authentication system. If they match, your iPhone will be unlocked and your purchase will be verified.

Apple has developed the Bionic Neural Engine to run the entire process in real time within seconds. Chipsets from A11 onwards are designed to perform billions of operations per second.

Like Touch ID, facial recognition data is not accessible from operating systems or apps. Instead, it is stored in the Secure Enclave.

According to Apple, Face ID works correctly even when you’re wearing sunglasses or a hat, or when you’re shaving your beard. Recently, Apple released iOS 15.4 with Face ID with masking. Even if you’re wearing a mask, you can still use Face ID to unlock your iPhone.

Face ID or Touch ID: Which is safer?

More secure Face ID and Touch ID

Despite mixed opinions from safer privacy experts, Apple claims Face ID is 20 times more secure than Touch ID. The chances of someone unlocking the iPhone using a spoofed fingerprint are 1 in 50,000, but for Face ID, this number grows exponentially to 1 in 1,000,000 false positives.

Apple states that it is not possible to duplicate facial recognition data on its website using printing or 2D digital photography, masks, or other similar techniques.

As an additional layer of security, Apple’s Face ID has a alert feature that prevents you from unlocking your iPhone until you fully open your eyes and pay attention to your device. Therefore, no one can use Face ID to unlock the iPhone / iPad Pro while sleeping.

If you’re wondering what happens when you’re cornered by a thief, he points your iPhone at your face and unlocks it. In fact, Apple’s chief software engineering Craig Federighi replied to an email from developer Keith Krimbel:

If you aren’t staring at the phone, it won’t unlock. Also, if you hold the buttons on both sides of the phone, [you] If you hand it over, Face ID will be temporarily invalidated.

So, statistically or otherwise, Face ID is much more secure than Touch ID.

Which is faster? Face ID or Touch ID

When it comes to speed, Touch ID wins the competition. According to Tom’s Guide, it took 1.8 seconds to turn on the screen and then swipe up to go to the home screen to unlock the iPhone X with Face ID. Meanwhile, Touch ID unlocked the iPhone 7 Plus in just 0.91 seconds.

On paper, Touch ID is faster than Face ID, but the same isn’t true in real-world applications. If you need to open a notification on your Touch ID device, you’ll need to tap the notification and place your finger on the sensor.

The process for the same is very simple on devices with Face ID. Raise the notification to tap it, and Face ID will recognize your face at the same time, resulting in faster access to the notification.

Why did Apple switch from Touch ID to Face ID?

One of the reasons Apple decided to switch to Face ID in 2017 is the device form factor. Face ID allows you to see more screens than Touch ID integrated into a button.

This allows Apple to offer a larger screen and a thinner bezel. Since the release of the iPhone X in 2017 and the introduction of Notch, we’ve seen even Android counterparts adopt the Notch design, albeit that way.

With the release of iOS 15.4, Apple is now compatible with Face ID even when using masks. This move indicates that Apple has no plans to reintroduce Touch ID to the iPhone. There are rumors that Apple plans to improve Face ID further, rather than returning to Touch ID.

DSCC analyst Ross Young recently tweeted:

Young isn’t the only analyst who believes Touch ID is a thing of the past.Well-known Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also with Ross Young Tweet Less than:

Also, it doesn’t make sense for Apple to revamp its authentication system. This is statistically inferior to Face ID. The company has already stopped offering premium products.

Face ID and Touch ID: Ease of use

For everyday use, Touch ID is better than Face ID because you only have to put your finger on the button to unlock the iPhone. For Face ID, you need to pay attention by holding your face in front of your iPhone and swipe up on the screen when your face is authenticated and you reach the home screen.

You can use Face ID on your iPhone and iPad to read detailed guides to familiarize yourself with the technology of your device.

In addition, a protracted pandemic proved that the face mask stayed here. Apple has introduced Face ID with a mask feature, but unlocking the device takes time. Therefore, Touch ID is a better and easier option for using masks.

Comparing Face ID and Touch ID repair costs, it goes without saying that Face ID is considerably more complicated to repair than the latter.

In fact, it’s still impossible to repair an iPhone with a defective Face ID without replacing the entire iPhone! Touch ID, on the other hand, isn’t that complicated. It’s about $ 79 for the Apple Care plan and about $ 200 for no plan.

So Face ID or Touch ID?

Face ID is the successor to Touch ID, and the most obvious difference is the identification method. Face ID is limited, but it doesn’t work well with masks, such as not being available when the iPhone is in landscape mode, and there are additional steps to access the home screen.

However, Face ID is certainly more secure than the latter and is designed to replace Touch ID. It’s been over five years since I checked Face ID on almost every iPhone. This proves that this technology is well established.

So which do you like better, Face ID or Touch ID? Share your answer in the comments below!

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