Face ID; What will it mean for blind iPhone users?

iOS & iPadOS


Given the recent news on the iPhone front, I'm curious to know how face ID will work for blind people, particularly the part about looking at the iPhone. Do any of you use facial recognition apps? What are your thoughts?
Given Apple's track record in accessibility, I'm sure they've got it figured out. I'm just curious about people's experiences.




Submitted by mendi on Tuesday, September 12, 2017

As I listened to the keynote I also was concerned about this feature, especially when they said if your eyes are not open. Looking at the device I would think should go alright, but for some who have little to no control of their eye movements, this could be problematic, or I'd think it could anyway. I'm also curious to know how this might work out.

Submitted by sockhopsinger on Tuesday, September 12, 2017

What is to prevent someone from taking a photo of your face, swiping your phone, and using that picture to unlock it? Just curious.

Submitted by Bo on Tuesday, September 12, 2017

According to the keynote, a photograph cannot fool the facial recognition. Sounds like it has a 3D component to it as well. They said it has a 1 in a million chance of being fooled, where Touch ID has 1 in 50,000.

iPhone X is still too rich for my blood. Why do I need a 5.8 inch display I won't benefit from anyway?

Submitted by Robin on Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Club AppleVis Member

I personally would be very surprised if Apple were to implement such a feature without taking into account those using VoiceOver. It seems that every time they unveil something new there’s a tendency to worry that suddenly accessibility will be lost; and so far so good or so it’d seem. Perhaps they could implement a slight vibration when the camera has the face aligned as they do when one is creating a fingerprint. As for the earlier poster positing about using photographs to unlock a phone, the Apple presentation itself touched on that indicating that they’d worked with Hollywood animators, makeup artists and others to try and thwart while admitting that nothing is foolproof. And since it won’t be on every device for a while to come there are still plenty of options for those who don’t wish to be early adopters.

Submitted by Jeff on Tuesday, September 12, 2017

As Bo said, a photo will not fool Face ID. Not even a mask. The only weakness of Face ID is an identical twin. Hope your twin isn't evil. <LOL>

Submitted by JeffB on Tuesday, September 12, 2017

I wonder about facial hair. If you add your face ID when you have a beard then shave would you have to change it again? I'm asuming you could still get in by entering your passcode if you had to change it. Also I wonder how it will handle fake eyes? I'll miss not being able to unlock my phone in my pocket down the road when I need a new phone.

Submitted by JeffB on Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Cool thanks Malthe.

Submitted by techluver on Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Basically the iPhone 8 seems to be the iPhone x minus the face ID, so if you really want to upgrade without losing your touch ID the iPhone 8 sounds like a good solution. I might actually go that route.

Submitted by Holger Fiallo on Tuesday, September 12, 2017

My only concern will be for those who have artificial eyes or for those who have cataractin their eyes. I been blind for a long time and I do have it. Also those who tend to have their eyes closed will need to train themselves to keep them open.

Submitted by alex wallis on Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Hi, just to say that is not correct iPhone 8 isn't iPhone x minus face ID, idownload blog has published the tech specs for both devices in separate articles, and just off the top of my head without even having read the specs for the 8 but just searched its page for the term fast charging, x supports fast charging but 8 doesn't, so on the page for x tech specs it says fast charging, charges up to 50 percent in 30 minutes. there are probably other differences but I couldn't be bothered wading through all those camera specs to find out, I was particularly curious about fast charging as that's originally what I thought, but when I saw mention of fast charging in the x's specs I just suddenly thought wonder if 8 supports that.

Submitted by kevinchao89 on Wednesday, September 13, 2017

I’ve had. Samsung Galaxy S8 for a couple of months, where I was curious to try the iris and face unlock. While, the instructions are accessible of how to enroll when using TalkBack, I wasn’t able to get the alignment correct with only light perception.
It required aligning iris within the hotspots on-screen, but there was no accessible feedback of where I was or how to correct.

It’d be interesting to see how this is accessible on iPhone X?

Submitted by Toonhead on Wednesday, September 13, 2017

According to a <A HREF="http://mosen.org/face-id-accessibility-apple-offers-some-answers/">Blog post</A> by Jonathan Mosen, we will be able to go into the accessibility settings under general, and disable a setting that requires us to have to, as Apple calls it, "pay attention". So we will be able to use it after all. I don't know why everyone always panicks when Apple introduces a new feature, but they've made Face ID accessible, which proves, once again that Apple really is committed to accessibility.

Submitted by AppleVis on Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Member of the AppleVis Editorial Team

Our event summary post by Alex Hall includes information on VoiceOver-specific option for FaceID. Essentially you can disable the requirement to have your eyes open and to be looking at the phone. Also, this is something which will be disabled by default if you enabled VoiceOver during the setup process of your iPhone X.

More here: https://www.applevis.com/blog/apple-apple-tv-apple-watch-ios-iphone-mac…

Submitted by mendi on Wednesday, September 13, 2017

I figured they had thought of the implications for VO users, but it's still sometimes concerning when new features are introduced and there seems to be no mention of a work around. Even still, not sure I want the iPhone X, but I'm glad it seems it'll be just fine for those who do.

Submitted by fmillion on Thursday, September 14, 2017

So I'm wondering how it will work if you're legally blind and use your iPhone by holding it right up to your face, say, an inch or two away. Too close for the sensors to get your whole face.

I suppose you could hold it at a distance to unlock it, but it'll end up being another step to get used to. Right now I pull out my phone and Touch ID it while holding it up to my face.

Also, the "require attention" feature sounds like it makes FaceID more secure, but if it won't work through sunglasses it probably also won't work through strong refracting glasses.

Submitted by Holger Fiallo on Thursday, September 14, 2017

I am for technology and have no issues with home button gone. My concern was about VO disabling looking at the camera to open the phone regarding security issue. However since people keep saying is not an issue. I will wait for one of the applevis staff to get one and do a demonstration on it. Anyone is interested in getting me the iPhone X for the holloday will be welcome.

Submitted by Jeff on Thursday, September 14, 2017

Of course, as with Touch ID, Face ID can be disabled, or more specifically, not enabled. But the accessibility feature that is being talked about is disabling "attention mode" which requires your eyes to be open and "paying attention" to the phone. In other words, Face ID can be enabled without "attention mode" for anyone who wants to use it but has issues with the phone recognizing that they are paying attention.

Again, as with Touch ID, if the phone does not recognize your face, it will require you to enter your passcode. You can think of it as replacing your finger print. Anywhere you'd enter your finger print, you'd use Face ID instead. But the passcode is still required at times, such as when the phone is first powered on or when Touch/Face ID fails.

Submitted by sockhopsinger on Thursday, September 14, 2017

I'm more concerned with what our headphone options are going to be. I haven't read anything about wired headphones. I am not going to Bluetooth headphones.

Submitted by alex wallis on Thursday, September 14, 2017

if you look on the apple store it tells you what comes in the iPhone boxes on the pages for the x and the various 8 options, normal lightning ear pods are included in the boxes so even if you don't want to use them you can use other lightning earphones or old ones with the adapter no issue. if the lightning port had gone from phones don't you think outlets would have actually said this, or if ear pods weren't included in the box again this would be mentioned, its the usual stuff in the box, nothing new.

Submitted by Chuck Winstead on Friday, September 15, 2017

Here is my opinion on the whole Face ID thing, and the iPhone event.
I think the numbers that Apple used were pulled from thin Air. I myself also do question how that will effect people who have no control with their eye movements.
I also wonder how this will work with when someone is going to a halloween party, and they have their face in a lot of paint.I think then that phone will struggled.
The Face ID thing is pretty foolish. It may be able to detect your face, but if you sleep with your eyes opened. That still doesn't take someone taking your phone and scanning your face to search your phone. Yet the Apple Sheaple fans still support that.
While both finger prints and Faces are pretty unique. I think the finger prints are more effective. For one, you'd have to do a lot more effort to scan a finger print. Like moving an arm, and a person will feel that. For two, By the time that phone is at eye level, or face level. It's already unlocked. So Apple is just adding more steps for you to get in and use that phone. this isn't simplicity This is adding more work to a phone
I myself am not liking the way Apple is taking the iPhone. At this rate Apple 2018 you don't need a charging port, because it's so much of an inconvenience.
This is just my opinion.

Submitted by Toonhead on Friday, September 15, 2017

It was mentioned during the keynote that Apple worked with several Hollywood producers,and artists to see if they could fool Face ID. Believe me Apple has gone to great lengths to make sure this is secure. I wouldn't worry about it too much.

Submitted by Joseph on Friday, September 15, 2017

From what I've read, only one face can be registered to each device at a time. so even if someone does get a hold of your phone, they'd have to guess your passcode, and if you have the "erase after 10 failed attempts" option enabled, they most likely won't get yoru data unless they connect it to their computer, but even then they would have to have the computer and phone "trust" each other. If I felt it was worth the upgrade i'd get an iPhone x, but I won't yet. not until i either have enough cash or until the first bus are squashed.

Submitted by Brian Giles on Tuesday, September 19, 2017

I'm not sure I like the idea of face ID as much as I thought. In the interview linked above, the guy spent a lot of time talking about how you have to be specifically looking at your phone to unlock it, but but there are people like some of us who can't do that, so they created a way to disable paying attention to make face ID work. I would think that would make it less secure. What would stop someone who had something against you, like say an X, from pointing your phone at your face to unlock it without you knowing so they could snoop through it? You don't always have your phone on your person...

Submitted by LaBoheme on Tuesday, September 19, 2017

the fact one can disable "pay attention" means the system does not use iris scan, which is a truely secure system. iris is unique, face changes. the fact it adopts to your changing face and your twin siblings can fool the system convinces me it is not very secure.

Submitted by david s on Tuesday, September 19, 2017


While I can see why plenty of folks are concerned, it is something new and we have to give it a chance. If we don’t we’ll never move on to better things.

I think when they said you can disable the requirement to keep your eyes open, the system will still scan the area where your eyes are. It will still map the area noting the size and placement of each in relation to the size of your face.

And I am glad Apple acknowledged that there is a chance an evil twin might be able to unlock your phone. That is better than someone trying it out and claiming it’s a flaw because an identical twin was able to unlock it. Remember what happened to Samsung when a reporter was able to unlock the galaxy using a Photo. Samsung had to go on the defensive saying the face scanner was not guaranteed.

Hi as for the haptics when the user aligns their head with the camera the phone vibrates this is true for any place that requires the use of FaceID

Submitted by Kevan on Sunday, December 29, 2019

Good to know Apple hasn't forgotten blind people when developing Face ID.

Submitted by jigneshpadhiyar on Monday, December 30, 2019

Apple has cleared all clouds hovering on this issue. If any user is blind or has low-vision, can use accessibility feature. In case blind or partially blind users don't want Face ID to require that they look at the device with eyes open, you can launch Settings > General > Accessibility > and then turn off Require Attention for Face ID. If you have enabled VoiceOver during set-up, this feature is disabled. Note that you may have to enter your lock-screen passcode to disable Require Attention for Face ID.

Submitted by Holger Fiallo on Tuesday, December 31, 2019

First if you need to worry about in your place using your phone when you are sleep and trying to use face ID, you need better people. I am careful when I am outside using my phone. Also next year around March, the new iPhone will have touch ID so you can get that.

Submitted by charles on Tuesday, December 31, 2019

A fellow musician got an iPhone 10 when they first came out. It uses face ID and has no home button or fingerprint ID. Using Voice-Over, I was able to set up the face ID feature and unlock her phone using my face. However, and here is the important part, I set the phone on a table and locked it. She picked the phone up and aimed it at my face. I did not do this. Someone else did. When she aimed the phone at my face, it unlocked. In my opinion, this totally killed the security of face ID for a user of Voice-Over. Unless this has been improved, I want nothing to do with it. Sure, I can still use my password, but if I am security conscious, I will need to be wearing a headset or ear buds when unlocking my phone. I generally do not carry them with me. I will keep my iPhone 8 plus for as long as I can to see if a solution is found.

Submitted by Holger Fiallo on Wednesday, January 1, 2020

I only put my phone down if I know the people. If I am in a pllace where are many people, I do not make the mistake of putting it anywhere. The key is be aware of where you put your phone.

Submitted by Becca on Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Face ID works well if you hold the phone 10 or 12 inches away from your face. Sometimes you need to enter your passcode, but it works.