back to article Erase 2017 from your brain. Face ID never happened. The Notch is an illusion

Apple is said to have made a virtue out of a necessity with its iPhone X – creating the notorious "Notch" to house a sophisticated facial-recognition system, Face ID. Arch-rival Samsung didn't do away its fingerprint sensor, but perched it awkwardly on the rear of its Galaxy S and Note models. Both companies had made these …

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Re: Prefer authentication on the front of the phone

Agreed. If I'm picking up my phone my fingers are on the back of the case, not the front. How is obscuring the display by slapping your fingers over it supposed to be preferable? It defies ergonomics. The only time a front sensor would make any sense if the phone was face up on a desk and I didn't want to pick it up, which doesn't happen because how am I going to do anything useful with it in that position?

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Re: Prefer authentication on the front of the phone

> Balls! iPhone needs two hands to unlock the display.

How so?

I appreciate the sensor on the Pixel is placed well, but can't your thumb reach the iPhone's front sensor?

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Re: Prefer authentication on the front of the phone

The iPhone sensor is a little bit too low for me to reach with my thumb (If I hold the phone by the bottom half, I always feel it's going to fall from my hand). So when I'm reaching for the phone in my pocket, I prefer the back sensor. But yeah, the front sensor is more convenient if the phone is lying on the table.

If the sensor can be under the screen, then they can put it in the middle of the screen, where it is easiest to reach. Or maybe they could put it on the side.

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Re: Prefer authentication on the front of the phone

iPhone needs two hands to unlock the display. The Pixel needs one.

The Motie phone requires all three hands. :(

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Stop

I'd happily use fingerprint authentication, but...

...the implications of Google, you know the company that bought Boston Dynamics that is literally building autonomous man-hunting dog-shaped robots having my fingerprints is just too terrifying to contemplate.

No ta.

Cool tech, though. I don't have a problem with the clever folks that have designed the technology, it's the likes of the evil c***s at Google that I have a problem with. They cannot be trusted.

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Re: I'd happily use fingerprint authentication, but...

Google sold Boston Dynamics to Softbank (owners of ARM).

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Terminator

Re: I'd happily use fingerprint authentication, but...

True, but they've still got that self-driving car tech.

And you just know they're going to fit it to combine-harvesters. And then their AI is going to go all Skynet on us, and turn us into pate.

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FIA
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Re: I'd happily use fingerprint authentication, but...

True, but they've still got that self-driving car tech.

And you just know they're going to fit it to combine-harvesters. And then their AI is going to go all Skynet on us, and turn us into pate.

Bollocks. Skynet is already here. Has been for a while now; it's just toying with us.

You think it's coincidence that proto supervillain Elon Musk looks a bit like Arnie??

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Re: I'd happily use fingerprint authentication, but...

If they don't already, then sensible android manufacturers will use a Secure Enclave type system, where (as ever, subject to design flaws) there is no access to your fingerprints from the OS or beyond, just a token passes when the sensor gets the correct input.

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Re: I'd happily use fingerprint authentication, but...

Thus shifting the domain of the hacker's problem from "how to fool the sensor that it is seeing the correct fingerprint" to "how to fool the system downstream of the fingerprint sensor that the sensor has seen the correct fingerprint" .....

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Anonymous Coward

FaceID is better than Touch ID, in most cases

I have the iPhone X and Face ID is much better than Touch ID in most cases. I was sceptical at first that it would work, but it does.

The only downside is if you have the phone lying flat, it doesnt work and you need to enter your pin code.

When used in all other cases it just works and is much better than fingerprint recognition IMHO, particularly when using apps, just look at the phone to authenticate rather than having to touch the fingerprint sensor.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: FaceID is better than Touch ID, in most cases

At least... it appears to be working. As long as every time you press the button it allows someone access... ;)

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Re: FaceID is better than Touch ID, in most cases

Its a mixed bag for me. I find it unlocks as quickly and naturally as Touch ID unlocked my 6s plus, but the requirement to look at it sometimes trips me up - i.e. if I'm watching TV and reach for my phone laying to the side if I don't slide my gaze over to it for a moment it'll fail to unlock and I have to relock/unlock it (anyone know if there's another way of telling Face ID "try again" other than hitting the sleep wake button once to sleep it and then again to reawaken it?)

When I'm riding my bike and I have my phone in a little mount on the handlebars I can't seem to get it to unlock while I'm riding. The combination of wearing helmet/sunglasses and movement/bouncing around a bit seems to be enough to put it off. Maybe if I trained it by entering the password after those failures...though typing in a password while riding would be even harder! I didn't really get an opportunity as I only had two rides in early November before fall really took over and the bike was put away.

With the phone lying flat I don't have any problems, I just have to lean forward a bit as I tap on the screen. You don't need to be fully above it, about a 45* angle seems to be sufficient.

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Honor 9

My only problem with the Honor 9 front fingerprint sensor is that the software only recognises 1 finger. I would like to be able to add a second finger to it so I can unlock with either hand. When handheld I can use my right thumb to unlock but when in the car bracket I need to be able to add a left hand finger. As for face recognition, useless to me when in the car.

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Why the sudden bezelphobia?

Has the population just learned a new word - 'bezel' - and been told it's a bad thing? We're getting devices with less functionality, weird screens that are harder to hold and which require silly work-arounds to function properly because some people think a few millimetres of blank space around the edges is the end of the world.

It kind of reminds me of the panic over skeumorphism a few years ago, just because Apple produced some piss-poor looking interfaces that took the real world metaphor a bit too literally, we ended up with Jonny Ive's unicorn vomit interface which somehow managed to make everything worse through inconsistent design, skinny fonts, stupid colour choices and the sort of colour use you by giving a five year old a family pack of Skittles and a pack of crayons.

Oh and before I forget - get off my lawn!

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Childcatcher

Re: Why the sudden bezelphobia?

IMHO, the answer is simple: the phone makers got themselves into a corner. They sold the idea that their newest and greatest flagships would have, every year, some great never-seen-before, mind blowing, life changing innovation. And for some time there were some honestly interesting innovations.

The problem is, they ran out of gizmos and gimmicks to throw at their phones so they are now doing things that look like innovation and can be sold as such to the masses, but aren't (look! our new phone is 0.1 Angstroms slimmer then the previous one! - look! the new screen is ever so slightly bigger!)

If actually useful thinks like a 3.5 jack or a fingerprint sensor get in the way of baffling the customers with bullsh#t that's too bad... but the marketing droids will solve it.

(I really need a "get off my lawn" icon! perhaps Clint Eastwood posing with his M1)

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Re: Why the sudden bezelphobia?

Its simple, because you want the biggest screen you can have without making the phone of an unwieldy size. Only two ways to do that, have less wasted space so the phone is all screen, or have a phone that folds.

There have been rumors about Samsung and Apple working on folding phones, but I'm really unsure how that's going to work. Presumably you'd want to end up with something in the neighborhood of 16:9 for the unfolded phone. So is it a really long 16:4.5 or a squarish 8:9 in your pocket? Neither one really appeals to me. Maybe its a trifold, so you can start 5.3:9 and it'll be almost tablet size unfolded, but I have to imagine that would be pretty damn thick when folded! It will be interesting to see what they come up with, and whether people will really accept it or it'll be a passing fad like 3D TV.

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Re: Why the sudden bezelphobia?

It's the same daftness as making them thinner at the expense of battery life. I'll take the whole phone being 2mm thicker and lasting an extra 24 hours, please.

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Re: Why the sudden bezelphobia?

There are a few phones that are thicker and offer bigger batteries, but they don't sell well. Samsung offers so many different models, they'd have a "Galaxy S8 Extra" or whatever to go along with the Plus and Active if they thought it would sell.

The fact you can add a case that has a built in battery to get the same thing kind of negates the drive to have a product that builds it in - you get a thicker phone that lasts longer either way, but relying on customers to buy a case does it without the risk of bringing to market a product with a niche audience.

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Anonymous Coward

or they can do like Sony put it on the side, meaning it is exactly where my thumb sits when I hold the phone...

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Old fashioned?

I'm sure I'll get called a luddite or probably worse, but my phone has no face unlock or fingerprint thing - you type in a pin number and that unlocks it quite readily, generally in less than a second too. I can also get my wife to unlock it if needed - e.g. when I'm driving and need to reply to a message or suchlike. I'm just not seeing where the great benefits of biometric locking lie.

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Re: Old fashioned?

I can also get my wife to unlock it if needed - e.g. when I'm driving and need to reply to a message or suchlike. I'm just not seeing where the great benefits of biometric locking lie.

That's because you're not cheating on your wife or, if you are, you're smart enough to use a burner phone for that sort of thing. Others, however......

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Re: Old fashioned?

They are not exclusive. In fact after a certain number of failed attempts* my phone demands the PIN, but it's there anyway.

*Do not forgetfully hold some emery paper with the finger you use to unlock the phone and do a lot of sanding. It took 2 weeks for that finger to be recognised again, by which time I had added an additional finger. Typing in a PIN in public is insecure.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Old fashioned?

Good for you. But since your phone doesn't have a fingerprint sensor, you're not in a good position to be able to genuinely judge whether it would provide a benefit or not. Lots of other people clearly find it useful to unlock their phone by touching a fingertip against a fingerprint sensor as they pick it up, rather than having to push the power button, then type a 4 digit code and confirm it. Try it and get back to us.

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Re: Old fashioned?

> by which time I had added an additional finger.

Doesn't that make it hard to buy gloves?

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Re: Old fashioned?

The way I see it, the main issue with fingerprint sensors is that it can be used by police and other LEOs to force you physically to open your phone, even in countries where doing so is blatantly illegal. It's happening everywhere.

The most common rebuke against this argument of mine is that police or TLAs can apply "physical violence" (i.e. "torture") to force you to give them the pin. My answer is that if you live in a country where police can torture you -without fear of the consequences- the fingerprint scanner in your phone is the lesser of your problems, and you should either find a way for you and your family to leave the country ASAP or stockpile fertilizers, aluminium powder and similar things, just in case. :-(

Another big issue is that fingerprinting sensors are easy to fool using common, easily available materials, like gummy bears and PCB etching materials.

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Cheating on your wife

If your wife has your PIN/password she can use that to unlock a phone locked with biometrics, too. No difference over a non-biometric phone for cheaters.

Apple solved the "police can force a biometric unlock" problem with a simple method to instantly disable biometric unlock on your phone, making it so your password is required. The problem is, in the UK among other countries the police can force you to give up your password and jail you if you don't. So whatever you're protecting on there better have worse consequences than the jail time you'll do for refusing to provide the password, or you better REALLY feel strongly about standing on principle.

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Re: Old fashioned? - difficult to buy gloves?

Not in Norfolk.

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Re: Old fashioned? (Try it and get back to us)

Strangely, I have had experience of fingerprint sensors on other devices previously and they just did nothing to make the process of unlocking the devices easier or simpler, for me.

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Anonymous Coward

I've said it before and I'll say it again:

"You can change a password, but you can't change your fingerprint."

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re: You can change a password...

> but you can't change your fingerprint

Place your hand here, no, don't worry, it won't hurt me a bit <insert maniacal giggle here>

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You've got nine other fingers if one is "compromised"...

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MrT

My old HP iPaq 5550 had a fingerprint scanner (2003 vintage Windows CE). After setting it up with the appropriate finger of choice, it suggested that alternative fingers also be registered, in case the original finger was "not available" ...

Not sure if Uncle Vito worked for HP, or if it was Microsoft, but it took considerable effort to move on to thinking "oh yeah, it could just have a plaster covering it".

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The number of a human

All this is the same. It's reading biometric pattern data from the unique features of your head or hand and converting it into a repeatable number set.

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Re: The number of a human

"All this is the same. It's reading biometric pattern data from the unique features of your head or hand and converting it into a repeatable number set."

No, that's not how it works.

There's a stored reference image of the fingerprint in question, and if the newly scanned image matches it in enough places, it's unlocked. That means the reference image has to be stored in unencrypted storage somewhere, along with the key to the encrypted storage.

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What's so bad about bezels?

This is good news for people who are into fingerprint scanners!

It raises a point, though. What's so bad about bezels? AN enormous amount of effort has gone into making the scanner work under glass in order to lose them, and phones are ditching valuable features (I'm looking at you, headphone jack) in order to lose them.

I don't understand my they seem to be so objectionable to people that they are willing to give stuff up in order to lose them.

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Re: What's so bad about bezels?

I like a good bezel.

Gives me somewhere to hold the phone and my phone case a fighting chance of saving the screen when I drop it.

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Re: What's so bad about bezels?

That's a good reason to not have the screen go out the very edge on the sides, but is that really a reason to have a big 1/2" bezel on top and bottom? Dunno about you, but I never held my phone by the top or the bottom.

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Re: What's so bad about bezels?

If that space is used to hold sensors and physical buttons (lord, how I miss those!), then that's a very good reason. Regardless, it's not like they're a problem that needed to be solved.

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Re: What's so bad about bezels?

Physical buttons are not worth the huge amount of wasted space that could be used by a screen. The whole reason for going touchscreen was to eliminate the need for physical buttons.

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Re: What's so bad about bezels?

"Physical buttons are not worth the huge amount of wasted space that could be used by a screen."

To you, perhaps. To me, they are very desirable. I haven't seen a soft-button replacement for them that works as well.

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Re: What's so bad about bezels?

Nothing, they are a god send.

When doing ANYTHING in landscape mode, bezels mean I can hold the phone and not have my subjective app doing all sort of weird, because I am holding the phone.

Regards

James

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