The iPhone X’s singular feature smeared by a single source.
From a report posted early Wednesday by Bloomberg’s Alex Webb and Sam Kim:
As Wall Street analysts and fan blogs watched for signs that the company would stumble, Apple came up with a solution: It quietly told suppliers they could reduce the accuracy of the face-recognition technology to make it easier to manufacture, according to people familiar with the situation…
To boost the number of usable dot projectors and accelerate production, Apple relaxed some of the specifications for Face ID, according to a different person with knowledge of the process. As a result, it took less time to test completed modules, one of the major sticking points, the person said.
It’s not clear how much the new specs will reduce the technology’s efficacy. At the phone’s official unveiling in September, executives boasted that there was a one in a million chance that an interloper could defeat Face ID to unlock a phone. Even downgraded, it will probably still be far more accurate than TouchID, where the odds of someone other than the owner of a phone being able to unlock it are one in 50,000.
My take: Please clarify: Did Apple reduce the accuracy of its face-recognition technology (paragraph 2) or did it relax the requirements of the manufacturers’ testing procedures (paragraph 14)? Might be the same thing, might not.
Bloomberg’s claim that Apple has reduced the accuracy spec for Face ID is completely false and we expect Face ID to be the new gold standard for facial authentication.
UPDATE: I’m not the only observer who sensed something was off about this story.
- Mike Wuerthele, AppleInsider: “It is not clear where or how Bloomberg sourced the data used for the report, or how accurate it is. Assuming the claims are accurate, it is also not clear is when the decision was made.”
- Dave Mark, The Loop: “We’ve seen plenty of examples of iPhone (and other Apple product) shortages that lasted months, with demand outstripping supply. I don’t believe Apple would risk the iPhone X reputation by shipping an iPhone X with less-than-effective facial recognition.”
- Jack Purcher, Patently Apple: “This isn’t just a bad rumor, this is a hit job.”
- John Gruber, Daring Fireball: “Frankly, I don’t trust anything Bloomberg reports about iPhones any more.” (This is the full Gruber postmortem at better than 2,000 words.)