If you run a store, you are probably used to customers staring at their smartphones. It's a challenge to get their attention and keep them focused on the merchandise or signage, especially if you want them to notice your latest products and new offers.
With the launch of the iPhone X, customers have another reason to stare at their phone, but this time, it may be in your favor. Those using Apple Pay will authenticate their purchase with Face ID, since the newest iPhone doesn't have the familiar home button.
As the first line of customer support, you shouldn't be surprised if there are some confused looks on faces and pleas for help when customers try to pay for goods at checkout. It often falls to store clerks or business owners to assist people if they're befuddled by a new technology. Here's a brief rundown of the changes surrounding Face ID and what it means for businesses that accept transactions through Apple Pay.
How it works
When using an iPhone X to make a payment, the iPhone user will double-tap the sleep button on the right side of the phone. Then they will need to look at their phone and authenticate themselves with Face ID. Currently, users touch the home button to do this with Touch ID.
The requirement to press a physical button is one way Apple seeks to introduce tactile response to what will be a paradigm shift. When unveiling the feature, Apple executives spent considerable time on stage discussing security.
Apple says there's a million-to-one chance that someone else could unlock your device with Face ID. The security is supposed to be so solid that even a twin shouldn't be able to pull any nefarious tricks on their unsuspecting sibling (though they are still more likely than others to break through – see the pros and cons below).
Face ID is the future
Whether your business is retail, digital or straddling different worlds, Face ID is the future of personal security and unlocking on the iPhone. (Note: Samsung Galaxy S8 phones feature something similar, relying on the company's own facial recognition technology to unlock the device.) But this means facial recognition will play an increasingly important role in commerce.
Face ID will be how iPhone users authenticate their identities when using third-party apps. All of the circumstances where someone currently uses Touch ID to verify their identity will now have them use Face ID. Such major changes are critical for business owners to keep tabs on, as there's likely to be changes to customer behavior.
The use of Touch ID won't disappear so quickly – Apple is still selling phones with the Touch ID fingerprint sensor with the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus. Additionally, there are millions of phones out there that still have people using their thumbs dozens of times per day.
Allied Market Research predicts that the facial recognition market will grow to $9.6 billion by 2022. A NIST report showed that facial recognition accuracy increased four times between 2014 and 2018. Facial recognition is now accurate and fast. It seems it's here to stay.
Pros and cons of Apple Face ID
The pros and cons of Apple Face ID have been hotly debated since the debut of the iPhone X. These are some generally agreed-on ones.
The biggest pro might actually be familiarity and comfort. After all, we identify ourselves and others through our faces. We don't peer into a friend's iris or inspect their fingerprint, so Face ID can feel like a more natural version of biometric technology than other types.
It's also more convenient and secure. There are no passwords to remember or keys that can be lost. Fingerprint sensors can become dirty, making them difficult to use. Face ID requires no direct contact, which may make it more popular in today's world of virus fears and social distancing.
When it comes to the possibility of strangers unlocking your phone, Face ID is much more secure than Touch ID. The odds of someone else unlocking your phone with Face ID is 1 in 1 million, versus 1 in 50,000 with Touch ID.
However, your family members may have better odds. Apple states, "The probability of a false match is different for twins and siblings that look like you as well as among children under the age of 13.” So if you are concerned about siblings or children unlocking your phone, Face ID may not be the way to go.
Masks and other issues
The biggest con of Face ID is that it won't work if your face is covered. While masks are now common attire, the problem isn't new. It also occurs with sunglasses. The worst part is that, until recently, the phone would spend considerable time searching for your face before prompting you to enter your passcode.
As of May 2020, Apple is beta testing a new version of Face ID that will recognize when you are wearing a mask. According to CNN, Face ID will not work for users wearing masks. Instead, the new version will allow you to enter your passcode instead of endlessly searching for your face. Having to enter the passcode could frustrate customers wanting to use their device to make purchases, though.
Apple states that the phone's machine learning program should learn to recognize you in different conditions, with or without glasses, makeup, or a beard. However, it may require a few unlocks after you change your look.
For business owners, staying on top of how this plays out is important. On the vendor side, there won't be dramatic changes to how you accept payments or the types of products you can offer. The main question for Face ID is whether it will usher in more digital interaction from iPhone users or if there will be pushback, given that this is a substantial change to a feature that's been part of the iPhone for years.
For business owners, it's important to be aware of how Face ID will change the dynamic with Apple Pay so that you don't lose a sale due to the rapid pace of technological change.