What was your highlight of Apple's iPhone event? Perhaps it was Jony Ive's voice coming out of a poop animoji, or Craig Federighi enthusiastically clucking like a chicken. For many people, the most memorable moment came when a live demonstration of the new Face ID system failed to work. But according to Apple, the security feature "did what it was designed to do."
As senior vice president of Software Engineering Federighi picked up the $999 iPhone X, he announced that "unlocking it is as easy as looking at it and swiping up." But things aren't always as simple as they seem - the handset failed to unlock. Ever the professional, Federighi said "let's try that again," but was met with a prompt stating: "Your passcode is required to enable Face ID." He then switched to a backup model, which unlocked first time.
Not only did the moment cause social media to explode, but it also saw Apple's share price temporarily drop from $163 per share to $159, though it quickly recovered.
In a statement to Yahoo's David Pogue yesterday, Apple said the security feature was working correctly. It claims the iPhone X had attempted to authenticate the staff who were setting up the demo as they moved the handset around and looked at its screen. When it failed to recognize them, it defaulted to the passcode after a set number of unsuccessful attempts, which in Face ID's case is reported to be just two.
Tonight, I was able to contact Apple. After examining the logs of the demo iPhone X, they now know exactly what went down. Turns out my first theory in this story was wrong---but my first UPDATE theory above was correct: "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."
So, according to Apple, nothing went wrong. But don't expect everyone to accept its explanation.