Craig Federighi, Senior Vice President of Software Engineering at Apple, went on stage to present the iPhone X’s most polarizing new feature, Face ID — except it didn’t exactly go as planned.
To Federighi’s subtle disgruntlement, the face recognition software didn’t quite work at first, instead asking him to input his PIN to unlock the phone.
Palms smacked faces of those in the room and Apple fans watching the live stream. At the same time, Apple haters may have jeered in satisfaction that one of the iPhone’s new defining features flopped before it reached consumer hands.
But that’s just on the surface. While people were quick to judge this as a failure for the iPhone X, this was merely a lack of foresight on Apple’s part.
You see, like on most smartphones with advanced login features, you’d have to input your PIN whenever the phone is restarted. Even Touch ID has such a precaution. In this case, Federighi simply had a freshly turned on iPhone X, and couldn’t use Face ID without typing the code first.
This didn’t stop Apple’s post-launch woes, however. This gaffe and the delayed rollout of the iPhone X (shipments begin November 3) caused a crash in Apple’s share value and put them in the red for a while.
Despite the reasoning behind it, messing up on the Face ID demo may also weaken consumers’ confidence in the new interface, especially after seeing no familiar home button or Touch ID on the iPhone X.
It was definitely embarrassing and a small blemish on an otherwise perfect event at the Steve Jobs Theater, but Apple will definitely recover — they always do.
Update (9/14/17): A representative from Apple clarified the situation with Yahoo, saying this:
“People were handling the device for stage demo ahead of time,” says a rep, “and didn’t realize Face ID was trying to authenticate their face. After failing a number of times, because they weren’t Craig, the iPhone did what it was designed to do, which was to require his passcode.” In other words, “Face ID worked as it was designed to.”
As it turns out, Face ID was doing its job of locking the phone after several failed login attempts before the presentation started. This doesn’t change the fact that the onstage demo was a failure, but those interested in the iPhone X at least know their future phone won’t let them down security-wise.