iOS 12.1 beta includes support for Face ID in landscape mode, likely for iPad Pros

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in iPad
The first iOS 12.1 beta, released earlier on Tuesday, appears to include support for Face ID authentication while a device is in landscape mode, though the option is likely to be reserved for upcoming iPad Pros.

Renders of new iPad Pros, allegedly based on leaked CAD images.
Renders of new iPad Pros, allegedly based on leaked CAD images.


The option probably won't work with the iPhone X, XS or XR because it would require Apple to realign front-facing sensors, developer Steve Troughton-Smith noted on Twitter. Landscape support might be useful on the XS Max, since some apps take advantage of the phone's 6.5-inch screen to offer a split view in that orientation.

It may be more crucial with iPad Pros, since iPads are often or sometimes exclusively used in landscape mode, and it would be inconvenient to have to rotate to portrait mode every time Face ID is needed.

Apple didn't announce new Pros at its Sept. 12 press event as some rumors had suggested. The company is believed to be working on updated 10.5- and 12.9-inch models though, which are expected to include not just Face ID but much thinner bezels -- not quite edge-to-edge like the iPhone XS, but close.

The tablets have also been rumored to make the switch from Lightning to USB-C, and in fact Troughton-Smith commented that iOS 12.1 "seems to care a lot more about whether an external display is connected," which he noted would make sense if there's no Lightning-to-HDMI adapter in the way.

Apple could still launch new iPad Pros before the end of the year, as it sometimes holds product announcements as late as October.



Comments

  • Reply 1 of 7
    cpsrocpsro Posts: 2,516member
    The option probably won't work with the iPhone X, XS or XR because it would require Apple to realign front-facing sensors[...]

    The tablets have also been rumored to make the switch from Lightning to USB-C, and in fact Troughton-Smith commented that iOS 12.1 "seems to care a lot more about whether an external display is connected," which he noted would make sense if there's no Lightning-to-HDMI adapter in the way.
    How about the option might not work, instead of "probably"? A reason it might not work is that Apple might not choose to support landscape orientation in software. Or perhaps it's not a choice, given the iPhone hardware.

    And what does it mean for  iOS 12.1 to "care" about whether an external display is connected?
    edited September 2018
  • Reply 2 of 7
    anomeanome Posts: 1,303member
    I'm still not sure what the technical limitations on FaceID in landscape mode are. I presume that it's something other than the sensor sees the image, with TrueDepth data, on its side, and can't translate, since that should be easy in software. Is there something about the arrangement of the dot-projector or the IR sensor that means it can't map onto the face properly when in landscape mode?
    fastasleep
  • Reply 3 of 7
    anome said:
    I'm still not sure what the technical limitations on FaceID in landscape mode are. I presume that it's something other than the sensor sees the image, with TrueDepth data, on its side, and can't translate, since that should be easy in software. Is there something about the arrangement of the dot-projector or the IR sensor that means it can't map onto the face properly when in landscape mode?
    I also don't get the idea, at least the dot projector is almost square with its projection so I don't see a problem in working left/right upside/down
    fastasleep
  • Reply 4 of 7
    I'd suspect it simply hasn't been programmed yet to work in that orientation - FaceID rolled out first in phones in portrait, then develop the software to cope with landscape also later... they already have gyrpscopes to know if left or right oriented in Landscape.

    I'm still disappointed there wasn't an iPhone MiniX - 4ish inch screen a la SE with FaceId, no chin etc OLED and all the bels and whistles.
  • Reply 5 of 7
    anome said:
    I'm still not sure what the technical limitations on FaceID in landscape mode are. I presume that it's something other than the sensor sees the image, with TrueDepth data, on its side, and can't translate, since that should be easy in software. Is there something about the arrangement of the dot-projector or the IR sensor that means it can't map onto the face properly when in landscape mode?
    In theory…

    Whenever you have a separation of cameras/projections you can optimise the depth-related interpretation of the data by taking advantage of knowing how the object will be aligned with the cameras; knowing some defining characteristics of the objects to be analysed.

    Which is nothing more than a convoluted way of saying that they to improve accuracy could have hardcoded things to assume portrait mode; sort of a "the nose is in the middle, so we get these angles from each side of it"-thing.

    Switching to allowing landscape mode would then require more than just checking the gyroscope for alignment, because you couldn't get the "optimised" stored data to perfectly match up with how the cameras see/interpret the user.

    Basically this could mean that they first have to rewrite everything to make it "orientation agnostic", and then every user would have to "retrain" their devices to store more data about the face.
  • Reply 6 of 7
    eriamjheriamjh Posts: 1,147member
    All of this landscape va portrait mode talk is interesting but is the problem a sensor orientation issue or a software issue? 

    Will FaceID recognize a user whose face is upside down (holding phone upright while hanging upside down Spider-Man 200X style)?   No?

    Will FaceID work if the phone is upside down?   If not, then maybe the algorithm is looking for key facial features in key zones.  Eyes on top.   Nose in middle. Lips and chin below.   

    Sideays?   

    Ipads are as likely to be used in landscape as they are in portrait.   I watch videos on my tabletop and use TouchID to unlock.  The Apple keyboard is landscape.

    id rather NOT see the notch on an iPad.  I hope Apple can make the FaceID hardware fit in the margin.    
  • Reply 7 of 7
    anomeanome Posts: 1,303member

    This is all leaning towards what I was thinking, that it's purely a software thing, and not a technical limitation on the hardware, as some previous discussions have indicated. Basically, it's as if TouchID can only recognise fingerprints if the finger is "vertical" with respect to the sensor. (There is no such limitation on TouchID, I open my phone and iPad with my fingers at all angles all the time.) This would mean it is possible for them to issue a software update to existing FaceID devices (well, the iPhone X) that would allow it to work in landscape mode.

    After all, orienting a face is pretty easy, and has nothing to do with gyroscopes. You can very easily work out where the eyes, nose, and mouth are, so where they are in relation to eachother tells you which way up the face is relative to the device. (Or if you're a Picasso painting.)

    eriamjh said:
    Will FaceID recognize a user whose face is upside down (holding phone upright while hanging upside down Spider-Man 200X style)?   No?

    Now, you see, that's trickier. The face actually looks quite different when upside down because gravity pulls all the skin, fat, and muscles not under tension the other way. If you watch Penn and Teller's bit where they're shooting upside down so that they can make things fly upwards, you can really see Penn's face isn't right. (I mean this was before he lost all that weight. And Teller's face isn't right, either, but it's more noticeable on Penn.)

    It's not impossible to write algorithms to account for that, especially with the kind of data the TrueDepth sensor gets, but it does make it a bit more difficult than just detecting orientation of an otherwise upright face. And as far as I know, FaceID works for people lying down, which has a similar, but not as severe problem.

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