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Analysis of Why Face ID Doesn’t Work Well on the New 11″ iPad Pro

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The problem emanates from another (poor?) design decision Apple made. Just in case you’re unaware, Apple removed the Home Button on their newly released iPad Pros.

With the Home button gone Touch ID is impossible. Therefore Face ID becomes the only method available for unlocking a device.

An additional aspect to note is that there is a bit of a learning curve for users who haven’t used one of Apple’s recent new iPhones which also no longer have a Home button. Really, the learning curved isn’t all that bad. And, almost everyone agrees that once they’ve tackled learning the new gestures, they like them better than having the old Home Button (except when it comes to taking screenshots on iPads…which is another design flaw that I mention further down!)

What isn’t necessarily loved is how Face ID performs on the new iPad Pros.

Another view of the new iPad Pros
Another view of the new iPad Pros

It’s quite obvious that Apple has devoted a lot of resources towards perfecting Face ID. Which is why it’s even more puzzling how they could have ignored such a blatant problem. But that’s not entirely unusual behavior for Apple. The company does seem to have a history of creating unique features that are less than perfect because of similar oversights. For an example please refer to the section a little further down the page that starts out ‘A 2nd Major Design Flaw….

The Worst Part About the Face ID Problem on Apple’s New iPad Pros May Be What That Really Means for All Apple Customers

When Apple removed the Home button, they also removed Touch ID completely as a method for securing your devices. Touch ID has been replaced 100% by Face ID.

That by itself wouldn’t be such a bad thing. The bad part is that Apple released Face ID before it was ready for Prime time! Apple does appear committed to making the necessary improvements to make Face ID work in the long run. In fact, their second iteration of Face ID does work much better than their first one did. The first iteration was really spotty for people who wear glasses (like moi!) and for a few other outlying exceptions. While Apple states that in general, most people have been pleased with the new Face ID feature…I suspect that may not necessarily be the case.

All Face ID Camera Specs at a Glance
All Face ID Camera Specs at a Glance

This whole situation seems to be one that is representative of a new kind of pattern I’ve been seeing lately. Where Apple releases a product or feature that has some pretty significant problems and they state that the problems don’t really exist. Or they may minimize the degree of the problems or suggest that they don’t really impact very many people. Then, behind the scenes, they work like crazy to get the problems solved!

The volume and severity of the problems that are impacting brand new products seem to me to be increasing at a fairly significant pace. So much so that it appears to me that Apple went from only allowing developers to beta test their software, to allowing anyone who wanted to, and then progressed beyond that to what we have now. Which seems to be a situation in which Apple appears to be beta testing all of their new software (and maybe even some of their hardware) on their entire user base!

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Has Apple’s entire customer base become their beta testers?

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A Recent Experience with My iPhone X & Face ID Uncovered Yet Another Problem with Version 2

We’ve Just Arrived Home From a Family Vacation for the 2018 Christmas & New Year’s Holidays

I was OK with the improvements to FACE ID version 2, up until our very recent holiday trip to Cuba. While we were there I discovered that Face ID caused me to repeatedly miss one great photograph after another, either because it was too slow or because it wouldn’t work at all. If my phone was upside down, or if my hand covered the camera, or who knows what other little aberration would arise when I’d quickly pull my phone out of my pocket or purse to capture something.

If Apple could improve battery performance enough to allow me to do so I’d leave my iPhone awake all day long. But right now that’s impossible without my battery completely draining. The rate of drain still seemed to be faster than that of my Android using companions. This was despite the fact that my iPhone X wasn’t using any kind of networking at all…be it cellular or WiFi or possibly even something else. My main point is that background tasks weren’t ever running. Just to make certain that I didn’t accidentally incur huge roaming charges I turned cellular off completely as well as individually for every single service on my phone.

So did the rest of my family. Oddly, we all experienced a few weird occurrences like receiving a text or in my case a phone call…even with everything off!

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I mention my iPhone X problem here for a reason. Because the newest iPad Pro Face ID problem occurs for the same kinds of reason as those with my iPhone X.

The Problem?

The Face ID camera can’t find my face!

In the case of the iPad Pro, the location or placement of the Face ID camera is the main problem. In situations where I’m repeatedly missing out on tons of great photos with my iPhone X I think the problem lies more with Apple’s software not working fast enough to orient the Face ID system to the correct scenario that applies to that specific situation.

If you hold your iPad in the landscape orientation position like the images a little further down depict (and like most iPad users do,) your left hand completely covers this little camera.

A Few Examples of iPad ‘Grips’ that Will Cause This Problem

A few examples of problem grips
Some examples of some problem grips.
Another examples of a problem grip.
Even more examples of problem grips.

Why Is This Such a Big Problem?

Along with securing your device Face ID is also used for many other functions. Buying an app from the App Store (even if it’s a free one!) requires the use of Face ID. Using a password from either your Apple Keychain or from another password manager such as Dashlane also requires the use of Face ID. Using Apple Pay is one more tool that requires the use of face ID. Accessing your account in the App Store changing many settings in the Settings App are 2 more examples of situations where Face ID usage is necessary.

My main point then is that most users end up using Face ID a lot more than they initially realize! When Face ID doesn’t work very well, everything that you do becomes more cumbersome. Don’t even get me started again on how many potentially incredible Cuban photos I missed because of Face ID on my iPhone X! I’m still not quite over it.

One more example of someone who's going to have a problem with Face ID.
One more example of someone who’s going to have a problem with Face ID.
Photo by Patrick Schneider on Unsplash

Above: Even one-handed holders will most likely cover the camera.

I disagree with DetroitBORG on One Important Aspect of the Face ID Problem

This other aspect makes the problem a little more serious for brand new owners of the iPad Pro. He suggests that when this Face ID problem occurs it’s a simple and quick fix. While the fix may be simple…it’s far from quick. Worse yet is that the problem completely confounds new users. Because, initially new users don’t even know why their iPads aren’t unlocking correctly!

No error message is provided initially and you’re left to just random, often futile attempts at unlocking your iPad. It’s definitely odd how both my husband and myself experienced the problem initially with no assistance for ios on how to resolve it.

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