Image from linked website

Accessibility of iPhone X (Face ID and no Home button)

How do these new features impact users who are visually impaired and blind?

Each year, Apple showcases their new products at the World Wide Developers Conference (WWDC) event.  During the 2017 WWDC, which is the 10th anniversary of the iPhone, Apple announced three new iPhones:  iPhone X (pronounced ‘ten’), iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus. The screen of the iPhone X covers the entire front of the phone – eliminating the Home button and adding the Face ID feature to unlock the phone. The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus are similar to previous iPhones which have the bezel (edges around the screen) and have a physical Home button.

Security of Face ID

Apple stated that facial recognition is 1 in a million – about twenty times more secure than Touch ID. Face ID works despite changes in hair, glasses, hats, etc. Visually impaired users report that nystagmas, prosthetic eyes, etc. do not impact Face ID. The iPhone X relies on an infrared laser that projects thirty thousand points to create a 3D map of your facial structure. This 3D mapping also eliminates the possibility of unlocking the iPhone with a picture or even with a 3D mask. For security reasons, the iPhone X requires the user to look at the phone in order to unlock it.  There is an accessibility setting to disable this feature, enabling Face ID to unlock the phone whether you are looking at the phone or not.  During the initial iPhone set up, if VoiceOver is on, the look to unlock feature will automatically be disabled. You can turn off Face ID (or Touch ID on other iPhone models) by quickly pressing the Power button 5 times. 

Note: Apple acklnowledged that identical twins may be an exception to the security of Face ID.

New commands for the old Home button features 

For details about all the products announced at WWDC 2017, go to the AppleVis post, All the Xciting News from Apple’s September 12 Event

For details about the accessibility of Face ID, go to the AppleVis post, Goodby to the Home Button, Hello to Face ID; What Might This Mean to Blind and Low Vision iPhone Users?

For specs and the iPhone X, iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus comparisons, go to Apple’s website.

By Diane Brauner

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