The iPhone X is here, and with it Apple’s new biometric authentication—Face ID. All week I have seen videos attempting to demonstrate whether or not an identical twin can dupe Face ID and allow someone other than the actual iPhone owner to access the device. Just stop. It is a stupid test.
Hacking Face ID
Similar tests were conducted when Microsoft first introduced the Windows Hello facial recognition feature, which utilizes similar technology. I get it. It’s fun to try and hack the authentication for a new device or technology. It’s also pretty good for getting clicks and generating traffic. It just has no real-world value and doesn't provide any useful information for owners (or potential owners) of an iPhone X.
The premise of the “twins test” conducted by media outlets like Mashable and Business Insider seems to be to demonstrate whether or not the facial recognition feature of the iPhone X is absolutely secure. Business Insider found that it works as advertised and Face ID could not be fooled by identical twins. Mashable, on the other hand, found two sets of identical twins capable of thwarting Face ID. The subtle implication—although not substantiated at all by the test itself—is that maybe you shouldn’t trust Face ID.
According to a University of Texas study, only about 32 out of 1,000 people are twins—which translates to roughly three percent of the population. However, the rate for identical twins is only 3.5 per 1,000 births. That means the novelty of breaking into an iPhone X by tricking Face ID only applies to about one third of one percent of the population.
Face ID is 99.997 percent secure
What we’ve learned from these tests is that it is, in fact, possible that some identical twins can fool Face ID and gain access to the iPhone X. What we know from the twins data, is that this is only an issue for 0.35 percent of the world—at most. The fact that the Mashable and Business Insider twin tests got different results suggests that only a certain subset of identical twins can bypass Face ID, which could significantly lower that number.
Instead of worrying about the fact that an identical twin might be able to access the device, let’s focus on the real story here. The fact is, if it takes a truly identical twin to maybe be able to fool Face ID, then for the 99.997 percent of the population of the world who are not part of a set of identical twins, Face ID is pretty damn secure.
If you do happen to be an identical twin and this is an issue that concerns you, you can always use the Emergency SOS feature to quickly disable Face ID facial recognition at your next family gathering to ensure your evil twin won’t be able to access your iPhone X without the passcode.