Following months of rumours, Apple has unveiled the bezel-less iPhone X complete with Apple’s latest tech, including facial recognition, wireless charging and an edge-to-edge display.

The facial recognition tech, called Face ID, is the replacement for Apple’s Touch ID tech that was originally located in the Home button. Apple claims that it’s incredibly accurate, and that only 1 in 1,000,000 faces will be able to unlock your iPhone.

Face ID is impressive, and so are the things you can do with it. Here, we explain what Face ID is, the kind of applications it’ll have and how to set it up on the new iPhone X. Those worried about the security aspect should take a look at our article on how secure Face ID is

What is Face ID?

Before we dive in and explain the cool things that Face ID provides on your iPhone X let’s first explain exactly what Face ID is, and why it’s so cool.

Essentially, if you’re planning on getting the iPhone X once it’s released in November 2017, your phone will magically unlock whenever you look at it. Okay, it’s not actually magic; it’s Face ID, or “the future of how we will unlock our smartphones and protect our sensitive information” according to Apple.

The reason why it’s exclusive to the iPhone X? It’s due to the sheer amount of tech crammed into the front-facing camera at the top of the edge-to-edge display.

The area at the top of the iPhone X display, also known as the notch, is dubbed the TrueDepth camera system by Apple. It’s comprised of several components: a flood illuminator, IR camera and a dot projector alongside the standard elements (proximity sensor, front camera, speaker, etc) to provide one of the most sophisticated facial recognition systems available at the moment.

How does Face ID work?

Face ID should be simple to use – the idea is that every time you glance at your iPhone, the TrueDepth camera system should recognise you and unlock your iPhone for you. It uses the flood illuminator to detect your face, even in the dark, then uses the IR camera to take a photo and finally uses the dot projector to map your face with over 30,000 invisible infrared dots.

The system then processes this information via neural networks built into the A11 Bionic chipset to create a mathematical model of your face, and compare that to the stored credentials on your iPhone.

Although this sounds like a long process, it all happens instantaneously, with early Face ID demos showing a near-instant unlock process. It’s thanks to the A11 Bionic – Apple’s chipset was built for machine learning algorithms, and has the power to process an incredible 600 billion operations per second.

What can I do with Face ID?

Of course, the biggest feature of Face ID is that it’ll be used to unlock your iPhone – but what else can Face ID be used for? While details are still relatively light as we’re still some time from the release of the iPhone X, Apple offered details during its September 2017 announcement.

Create and send Animoji

Apple has developed a new type of emoji dubbed Animoji. Why? These are animated emoji, of course, but not just any kind of animated emoji – they use your voice and your facial expressions. You can choose from over a dozen type of emoji, including the poop emoji, easily created via Apple’s Messages app, and can help to convey a range of messages.

If for nothing else, it’d be fun to send an Animoji of a talking poop.  

Apple Pay

With the removal of Touch ID on the iPhone X, Face ID can be used to authenticate Apple Pay purchases. It’s a relatively easy process; just double tap the side button (that is no longer a power button!), look at your iPhone to authenticate and hold your iPhone near the contactless terminal to complete the transaction.

Third-party apps

Along with Apple Pay, Apple has confirmed that third-party developers will be able to make use of the Face ID technology in their apps. Snapchat, for example, will offer high-end filters for iPhone X users with improved facial tracking/mapping.

How to set up Face ID

Once you get your hands on the iPhone X, here’s how to set up Face ID (if you skipped it during the initial setup for whatever reason):

  1. On your iPhone, go to Settings > Face ID & Passcode and enter your passcode.
  2. Tap ‘Enrol Face’ in the Face ID section.
  3. Tap ‘Get Started’ and follow the on-screen instructions.
  4. Position your face in the on-screen frame, and move your head around so it can be properly scanned.

It’s as simple as that! You should only need to set up Face ID once, and it should adapt and recognise you even if you grow a beard or dye your hair.