iPhone X facial recognition: Face ID doesn't work in middle of huge Apple event

'Unlocking it is as easy as looking at it and swiping up,' said Apple's head of software. Except it wasn't

iPhone X: Apple chief suffers onstage Face ID fail

Apple's newest feature let it down during its big event, in perhaps the most awkward way possible.

Facial recognition is the headline feature of the brand new iPhone X, Apple's most expensive and most futuristic ever phone. But when the company took to the stage to show it off, it seemed go a little wrong.

Apple's head of software, Craig Federighi, stood on stage and showed how easy it was to unlock the phone just using his face. Except it seemed harder than he expected.

“Unlocking it is as easy as looking at it and swiping up," he said, and made the gesture on the phone he was holding. Then nothing happened. Mr Federighi tried again, and nothing happened again.

He then admitted defeat and swapped to what he said was a "backup" phone, which worked straight away. There were no more problems during the event, and the facial tracking seemed to work instantly.

Apple's share price dropped in response to the awkward moment, though it quickly recovered once the Face ID started working again.

It doesn't actually seem that Face ID wouldn't recognise Mr Federighi's face. Instead, it seems that Touch ID wasn't enabled, presumably either because it hadn't been set up properly or the phone had been restarted.

(The same thing will happen on your phone, if it has a TouchID fingerprint sensor. If it it's turned off and on again, or even left for too long, it will ask for a passcode – a feature that's meant as a security tool, since it is thought to be more secure than the biometric scanners.)

It's far from the first time that there's been a problem during a tech introduction. Perhaps most famous of all was during Steve Jobs' tenure as CEO, when he was showing the iPhone 4 off in 2010, the phone was having trouble connecting to the internet because of the sheer number of WiFi networks in the room, and he was forced to come on stage and tell everyone off.

Apple eventually got round to properly showing off the iPhone X, which it said is its vision for how phones will be over the next 10 years. It also revealed an iPhone 8 and 8 Plus, a new Apple Watch, an updated Apple TV and new software.

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