The FUD factory: Fear-stoking on Face ID’s accuracy


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Shocking revelations this week as it turns out that in order to make “products,” Apple must make “decisions” regarding those products. Yes, the struggle is real.

Bloomberg reports from “Inside Apple’s Struggle to Get the iPhone X to Market on Time.” (Tip o’ the antlers to Daring Fireball.)

Oh, my God, you mean making new products is hard?!

That is… wow. Gonna need a minute. Phew.

The nutty nut of this piece is this:

The company let suppliers reduce accuracy of the phone’s Face ID system to speed up production.

Yep, turns out anyone’s face will work to unlock your phone probably. I mean, we don’t know that because there aren’t any details in the piece that indicate what, if any, practical implication this has on Face ID’s performance, but probably.

Like, even Jerry’s face will probably work. And the Macalope thinks we can all agree that Jerry has a stupid, stupid face that we all hate.

Freakin’ Jerry, man, amirite?

Now, please enjoy the comical juxtaposition between this…

While a less accurate Face ID will still be far better than the existing Touch ID, the company’s decision to downgrade the technology for this model shows how hard it’s becoming to create cutting-edge features that consumers are hungry to try.

…and the very next sentence:

Apple spokeswoman Trudy Muller said “Bloomberg’s claim that it reduced the accuracy spec for Face ID is completely false…”

Even if it’s true and Apple is spinning, Bloomberg just admitted that Face ID will still be far more accurate than Touch ID. So, what is the point here? Apple reduced the accuracy in such a minimal way that you’ll never notice or care about it? OK, thanks for that penetrating insight into “how hard” it is these days to “create cutting-edge features”.

The thing is, these types of decisions get made all the time when designing a new product. Just because you hear about one of them doesn’t mean it’s a big deal.

To make matters worse, Apple lost one of its laser suppliers early on. Finisar Corp. failed to meet Apple’s specifications in time for the start of production…

The Macalope worked someplace once where someone was hired to do spreadsheet work. It turned out this person did not actually know how to do spreadsheet work and they were fired. We did not lament “losing” this person since this person was not actually able to do the work in the first place.

“Phew, man, I’d love to help you on that project but we ‘lost’ Jerry who was running around wasting other peoples’ time trying to get them to teach him how spreadsheets work.”

Freakin’ Jerry!

Bloomberg isn’t new to over-sensationalizing things Apple. Back in 2013, Bloomberg ran a report entitled “Falling iPad Mini Demand To Push Pegatron Electronics Sales Down.” Just one problem with that piece: there was no hard evidence it was true at all and Pegatron’s CEO claimed they put words in his mouth. Oh, wait, that’s two things. There were two things wrong with that report. (iPad sales did eventually decline, of course, but not until the following year.)

In his commentary on this piece, John Gruber brings up Bloomberg’s July 3rd report about Apple “testing” 3-D face scanning on the next iPhone, as if they were still figuring out if they were going to go with Face ID two months before announcing the phone.

For a business publication, Bloomberg seems overly surprised to learn how businesses operate.

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