Apple described Face ID as a more secure measure than Touch ID, but now it seems the company isn't as confident in it as it makes itself appear.
Case in point, iPhone X owners are reporting that the face-mapping technology isn't allowed to be used as an authentication method for the "Ask to Buy" feature, something its fingerprint-reading counterpart can do.
Face ID Can't Ask To Buy
Put simply, Ask to Buy lets parents stay on top of their kids' purchases and downloads, including free ones. For instance, whenever a kid buys something, the parent — or "family organizer" in Apple parlance — will be notified about it, and they can either approve or reject the order.
With Touch ID, parents could simply place their finger on the reader to authenticate purchases. With just Face ID on board, they have no other choice but to input their Apple account password, which could be a laborious task since secure passwords typically consist of a complex mix of characters, not to mention that having lots of kids means lots of requests are heading their way.
"I'm sure that after I set up my iPhone X last weekend I was able to approve family purchase requests with Face ID. Now, for every request I get (and with 3 kids I get lots of them!) I'm being forced to type in my Apple ID password, which is frustrating given how complicated they have to be these days to be considered secure," a user says.
Others who are in the same boat chimed in and complained about the same thing soon after.
Just to be clear, Face ID can still be used to authenticate other purchases.
How Secure Is Face ID?
Based on Apple's documentation, the chance of a random person unlocking the iPhone X with Face ID is roughly 1 in 1,000,000, while the probability of that happening with Touch ID and a compatible iPhone is 1 in 50,000. Technically, Face ID is 20 times more secure than Touch ID.
From the look of things, that doesn't exactly translate well in real-life situations.
Apple restricting Face ID from authenticating Ask to Buy transactions is understandable. Back in November, a 10-year-old managed to unlock his mother's iPhone X with his face.
There was also the case with the two brothers — who aren't even twins, for the record — where they tricked Face ID, but it's worth mentioning this has been chalked up to the iPhone X "training" itself to also unlock for the other brother whose wasn't registered on the phone.
Now in the company's defense, it did outline this on the support page, saying that iPhone X owners' siblings, twins, or kids under 13 have a higher chance of fooling Face ID.
However, it also said that masks couldn't deceive it, but a $150 mask did, contrary to the claim.
In short, Apple could have disabled Face ID as an authentication method for the Ask to Buy feature because there's a possibility that family members, particularly the parents' children, can bypass the security measure.
Put differently, the Cupertino brand is aware that Touch ID is just a tad more secure than Face ID.