iPhone X Review: Developer Considerations

Fifth in my look at the iPhone X we will tackle an area which will not be prudent to everyone, but may be of some interest to many. That topic is what developers need to look at when it comes to their applications on iPhone X.

The iPhone X represents a number of changes, an OLED screen with High Dynamic Range (HDR) support, improved camera, significantly improved processor, and Face ID, just to name a few. Many of these new features require some thought from developers to be able to have the best iPhone X experience for your users. If you have been keeping your application up to date, there may only be a few tweaks that need to be done to fully accommodate the iPhone X. Let us start with items revolving around the screen.

Screen

The iPhone X has an all new 5.8 Super Retina HD screen. This screen is an OLED based screen with a resolution of 2436 pixels tall by 1125 wide with 458 pixels per inch. This means that it has a true 3x screen due to the width being 375 points, and the height being 812 points.

This 3x screen means that developers may need to provide assets at true 3x resolution. It was possible to provide almost 3x resolution assets before since the Plus-sized iPhones were scale down any 3x resolution assets to appropriately fit the screen.

It is not likely that many developers would have not had true 3x resolution assets, but in case you did not, it is important to do so now. Along with this, the iPhone X is its own distinct screen size. Throughout the iPhone’s history there have been a total of six different screen resolutions. These have been:

  • 320 pixels by 480 pixels
  • 640 pixels by 960 pixels
  • 640 pixels by 1136 pixels
  • 750 pixels by 1334 pixels
  • 1080 pixels by 1920 pixels
  • 1136 pixels by 2436 pixels

If you are planning on supporting all of the currently supported devices, you will need to support the last four screen resolutions. Since the iPhone X is quite a bit taller, 216 pixels to be exact, you will need to make sure that your assets support the proper aspect ratios in order to be sure that everything appears correctly on each different iPhone model. There is one thing somewhat related to the screen.

Dark Modes

Each user of any application is unique. While you will never be able to please everyone, there is something that you can do to help a segment of your user base. Some users enjoy customizing the way that things look and for some of these users prefer a darker screen. This could be due to eye issues, or just because these themes are more visually appealing to them. For whatever the reason, it may help expand your user base to include a darker theme. The iPhone X may just give you the impetus to creating one within your application.

With the iPhone X being OLED, burn-in may become an issue over time. Even though Apple has done many things to help minimize burn-in, there is one thing that app developers can do to help; implement a dark mode within your app. With OLED, pixels are only turned on when the color is anything other than black. This means that if your application has a dark mode built-in you can help save a user’s screen. Another side benefit of this is that you can also help save battery life for users since the iPhone X will not need to turn on the super dark pixels. If you do not have a dark mode, it may be a good time to start implementing one, you never know it may just help expand your user base.

Face ID

Starting with the iPhone 5s, Apple has included a biiometric authentication mechanism with Touch ID. Touch ID has allowed for convenience when needing to unlock your iOS device or enter in a password. In order for developers to access the Touch ID sensor, Apple created the LocalAuthentication Framework.

The LocalAuthentication Framework provides two return values, a Boolean for the success or failure, and an NSError object, so you can determine the actual error that has occurred. That is all that you, as the developer receive. Given that the LocalAuthentication framework handles the actual authentication and determines which authentication mechanism to use, there is not much that a developer has to do.

The approach of only providing a success or failure, as well as an error, makes the LocalAuthentication framework infinitely scalable, from a developer’s point of view, and reduces the need for complex code. Ultimately what this means for developers is that they have minimal work to do to support Face ID on the iPhone X. In fact the only work that needs to be done is updating strings to refer to Face ID instead of Touch ID, when on an iPhone X. There are no other code changes necessary in order to support Face ID. If a developer does not have time to update their application right away, their application should continue to work, just with the wrong text showing on the iPhone X.

The Notch

The iPhone X brings a new wrinkle for developers, the notch at the top of the screen. The notch houses the True Depth Camera sensor. The notch actually protrudes into the screen and creates two areas that cannot really be used for anything. If a developer has decided to hide the status bar, there could potentially be option available for usage. However, for most developers they do not do this and will need to accommodate a bit within their application.

Apple has indicated that developers should “embrace the notch”. This means that they should not attempt to hide it with black bars. Apple made this decision, not only because it would create a lopsided application, and it would, but also because iOS 11 on the iPhone X utilizes the areas to the left and right of the True Depth Camera are where users access Notification Center, on the left, as well as Control Center, on the right.

If your application is using standard UIKit elements, those elements should automatically extend up to the notch and if you have any colors applied, those should also extend to the top as well. If you do have custom controls, you will need to extend your colors up to the status bar, to provide a more consistent look and feel to your application. One aspect that is new to iOS 11 directly relates to the iPhone X and that aspect is Safe Areas.

Safe Areas


Due to the notch it is important for developers to be able to know just how their applications will function. Until the iPhone X, if a developer chose to support all orientations, they could be reasonably reassured the they would only have two potential layouts to deal with, one in portrait orientation and one in landscape orientation. The iPhone X adds a bit of complexity to this arrangement.

One of the most important aspect to any application is the content. In order to provide developers with the confidence they need when building their apps, Apple introduced a new concept with iOS 11 called “Safe Areas”. Safe Areas, are just as they sound, they are areas where it is safe to put content.

Safe Area Guides are the actual term used to describe these areas. Safe Area Guides can be used on a controller by controller basis. Safe Areas will allow your content to stay within proper areas, not just on the iPhone X, but across all iOS devices. You can choose to allow some aspects of your interface to extend beyond the safe areas if it is appropriate to your application.

A peripheral item that developers need to be aware of, that relates to Safe Areas, is the new home indicator. The home indicator occupies a small portion of the bottom of the screen and automatically adjusts based on the background color. The home indicator will provide a significant amount of contrast so that it is always visible.

What this means for developers is that any controls need to be above the home button area. The area itself is not very large, but it is present. It is important to allow users to interact with this area. Safe Area Guides will allow developers to more easily determine where their application’s content will be shown, without having to worry about customizing each interface differently just for the iPhone X.

Letterboxed

If you have an iOS application and you have not yet updated it to support the iPhone X, it may be worth your while to do so. If you do not your app will have black bars above and below the primary content of your app. This is because Apple cannot accurately determine how best to show your application. Therefore, they will present it using a compact size class, with a resolution of 375 points wide and 667 points of height, or 1125 pixels by approximately 2000 pixels.

While it will take some time to adapt your applications to support the iPhone X doing so will allow your application look like it belongs on the iPhone X and not like it belongs on an older iOS device. For many users. having a letterboxes application may result in them abandoning that application in favor of another one that is more native to the iPhone X.

Closing Thoughts

The notch on the iPhone X is the biggest impediment for many developers to update their applications. This is particularly true for full screen applications and games. This is due not only to the notch itself and the work that needs to be done but also because their assets may not be able to scale properly due to the new aspect ratio.

Even though it may take some work on a developers’ part, to update their applications for the iPhone X, in the long run it will be well worth the effort, primarily because the iPhone X form factor is not likely to be a one-off model. Additionally, having an application that looks like it belongs on the iPhone X will not only be better not only for users, but also for developers as it will mean less work in the long run. Next let us turn to another new feature, one that is not exclusive to the iPhone X, but is also present on the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus; Wireless Charging.

iPhone Availability for 12/10/2017 (Morning)

Here is the iPhone Availability for the morning of 12/10/2017. Sprint and Verizon have the iPhone X available for all models. Now may be the last chance for you to get an iPhone X in time for the holidays, if you order today from Apple.

Changes for Apple

  • AT&T – 64GB Silver iPhone X has changed from Dec 14 to Dec 13 – Dec 15
  • AT&T – 256GB Silver iPhone X has changed from Dec 14 to Dec 13 – Dec 15
  • AT&T – 64GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from Dec 14 to Dec 13 – Dec 15
  • AT&T – 256GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from Dec 14 to Dec 13 – Dec 15
  • Sprint – 64GB Silver iPhone X has changed from Dec 14 to Dec 13 – Dec 15
  • Sprint – 256GB Silver iPhone X has changed from Dec 14 to Dec 13 – Dec 15
  • Sprint – 64GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from Dec 14 to Dec 13 – Dec 15
  • Sprint – 256GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from Dec 14 to Dec 13 – Dec 15
  • T-Mobile – 64GB Silver iPhone X has changed from Dec 14 to Dec 19
  • T-Mobile – 256GB Silver iPhone X has changed from Dec 14 to Dec 19
  • T-Mobile – 64GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from Dec 14 to Dec 19
  • T-Mobile – 256GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from Dec 14 to Dec 19
  • Verizon – 64GB Silver iPhone X has changed from Dec 14 to Dec 13 – Dec 15
  • Verizon – 256GB Silver iPhone X has changed from Dec 14 to Dec 19
  • Verizon – 64GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from Dec 14 to Dec 13 – Dec 15
  • Verizon – 256GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from Dec 14 to Dec 13 – Dec 15

Changes for the Carriers

  • AT&T – 64GB Silver iPhone X has changed from Dec 11, 2017 to Dec 13, 2017
  • AT&T – 256GB Silver iPhone X has changed from Dec 28, 2017 to Jan 2, 2018
  • AT&T – 64GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from Dec 11, 2017 to Dec 13, 2017
  • AT&T – 256GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from Jan 5, 2018 to Dec 13, 2017
  • Sprint – 64GB Silver iPhone X has changed from Available now to Available
  • Sprint – 256GB Silver iPhone X has changed from 12/15 to Available
  • Sprint – 64GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from Available now to Available
  • Sprint – 256GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from Available now to Available
  • T-Mobile – 64GB Silver iPhone X has changed from 12/08/17 to 12/11/17
  • T-Mobile – 64GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from 12/08/17 to 12/11/17
  • T-Mobile – 256GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from 12/15/17 to 12/20/17
iPhone 8
AT&T 64GB 256GB
Silver Tue Dec 12 Tue Dec 12
Gold Tue Dec 12 Tue Dec 12
Space Gray Tue Dec 12 Tue Dec 12
Sprint 64GB 256GB
Silver Tue Dec 12 Tue Dec 12
Gold Tue Dec 12 Tue Dec 12
Space Gray Tue Dec 12 Tue Dec 12
T-Mobile 64GB 256GB
Silver Tue Dec 12 Tue Dec 12
Gold Tue Dec 12 Tue Dec 12
Space Gray Tue Dec 12 Tue Dec 12
Verizon 64GB 256GB
Silver Tue Dec 12 Tue Dec 12
Gold Tue Dec 12 Tue Dec 12
Space Gray Tue Dec 12 Tue Dec 12
iPhone 8 Plus
AT&T 64GB 256GB
Silver Tue Dec 12 Tue Dec 12
Gold Tue Dec 12 Tue Dec 12
Space Gray Tue Dec 12 Tue Dec 12
Sprint 64GB 256GB
Silver Tue Dec 12 Tue Dec 12
Gold Tue Dec 12 Tue Dec 12
Space Gray Tue Dec 12 Tue Dec 12
T-Mobile 64GB 256GB
Silver Tue Dec 12 Tue Dec 12
Gold Tue Dec 12 Tue Dec 12
Space Gray Tue Dec 12 Tue Dec 12
Verizon 64GB 256GB
Silver Tue Dec 12 Tue Dec 12
Gold Tue Dec 12 Tue Dec 12
Space Gray Tue Dec 12 Tue Dec 12
iPhone X
AT&T 64GB 256GB
Silver Dec 13 – Dec 15 Dec 13 – Dec 15
Space Gray Dec 13 – Dec 15 Dec 13 – Dec 15
Sprint 64GB 256GB
Silver Dec 13 – Dec 15 Dec 13 – Dec 15
Space Gray Dec 13 – Dec 15 Dec 13 – Dec 15
T-Mobile 64GB 256GB
Silver Dec 19 Dec 19
Space Gray Dec 19 Dec 19
Verizon 64GB 256GB
Silver Dec 13 – Dec 15 Dec 19
Space Gray Dec 13 – Dec 15 Dec 13 – Dec 15

iPhone 8 – from Carriers
AT&T 64GB 256GB
Silver Dec 13, 2017 Dec 13, 2017
Gold Dec 13, 2017 Dec 13, 2017
Space Gray Dec 13, 2017 Dec 13, 2017
Sprint 64GB 256GB
Silver Available Available
Gold Available Available
Space Gray Available Available
T-Mobile 64GB 256GB
Silver 12/11/17 12/11/17
Gold 12/11/17 12/11/17
Space Gray 12/11/17 12/11/17
Verizon 64GB 256GB
Silver Available Available
Gold Available Available
Space Gray Available Available

iPhone 8 Plus – from Carriers
AT&T 64GB 256GB
Silver Dec 13, 2017 Dec 13, 2017
Gold Dec 13, 2017 Dec 13, 2017
Space Gray Dec 13, 2017 Dec 13, 2017
Sprint 64GB 256GB
Silver Available Available
Gold Available Available
Space Gray Available Available
T-Mobile 64GB 256GB
Silver 12/11/17 12/11/17
Gold 12/11/17 12/18/17
Space Gray 12/11/17 12/11/17
Verizon 64GB 256GB
Silver Available Available
Gold Available Available
Space Gray Available Available

iPhone X – from Carriers
AT&T 64GB 256GB
Silver Dec 13, 2017 Jan 2, 2018
Space Gray Dec 13, 2017 Dec 13, 2017
Sprint 64GB 256GB
Silver Available Available
Space Gray Available Available
T-Mobile 64GB 256GB
Silver 12/11/17 12/26/17
Space Gray 12/11/17 12/20/17
Verizon 64GB 256GB
Silver Available Available
Space Gray Available Available

iPhone X Review: Animoji, Apple Pay, Gestures, and Passwords

So far, we have covered the Screen, Face ID, and the Camera. The fourth article in my iPhone X Review is about ways that Apple has utilized Face ID. This article will cover Animoji, Apple Pay, Gestures, and Passwords.

The longer you use a product, the more familiar that you become with it. One of the side effects of this is that interactions can engrained. With the iPhone X there are certain aspects that a long-time iPhone user needs to be aware of due to the change in interactions, as compared to older iPhones. Let us start with some changes in gestures.

Gestures

If you have been using an iPhone for any amount of time, you quickly become accustom to the manner in which you use it. When Apple introduced the original iPhone in 2007, it forced users to change the way that they interact with their phone. Although one of the benefits of this change is that a very small percent of users who adopted the iPhone already had other habits of using a smart phone. So the learning curve would have been close to the same for everyone.

Prior to 2007, there were two primary key layouts, T-9, which is like a standard telephone key pad, and a full hardware keyboard, like the Blackberry phones sported. The iPhone changed the entire interaction model by introducing a fully fledged smart phone with no physical keyboard. Instead, there was a virtual keyboard that allowed it to be shown and hidden as needed. The iPhone made a radical change and flipped everything on its head.

If, like me, you have been using an iPhone since the original, you have become very well versed in how to use an iPhone. Even with all of the changes that have occurred over the years, the core interaction methods have remained the same since the original. The iPhone X changes this a bit and requires that you adopt some different gestures. Most of the standard gestures you are used to remain, but there are some that have been adjusted.

Waking Up

Since the first iPhone, you have always had a couple of different choices for waking up your iPhone. The first option is to use the home button to wake up your iPhone. The second method is to click the “power” button. Clicking the power button still works on the iPhone X, but the iPhone X does not have a home button. iOS 10 introduced a new feature, Raise to Wake. Raise to wake was only available on the iPhone 6s, the iPhone SE, or later models. Raise to Wake allows you to lift up your iPhone X and it will wake up the screen. Alternatively, you can also tap on the screen of the iPhone X to wake it up. Unlike clicking the home button, you can tap anywhere on the screen to wake up the iPhone X. If it helps, you can tape in the same area that the home button would have been in, so it would be an easier transition from older devices. Similar to waking up the phone, unlocking has been changed a bit.

Unlocking iPhone X

Unlocking the iPhone X is very different than previous iPhones. With no home button which means no Touch ID, you will need to use Face ID, or a passcode, for unlocking your iPhone X. iOS 11 introduces a feature called “Cover Sheet”. Cover Sheet will allow you to look at your iPhone without bringing you to home screen. The Cover Sheet will show you the time and notifications.

On iPhones, besides the iPhone X, simply pressing the home button will bring you to to the home screen. With the iPhone X, you have to swipe up on the Cover Sheet to show the home screen. If you swipe up, before your iPhone X is unlocked, you will have to wait for Face ID to authorize you. In practice though Face ID is pretty fast so that you can do the following:

  1. Raise the iPhone X
  2. Swipe up from the bottom

That is all you have to do. By the time you the swipe animation finishes, your iPhone X will be unlocked and you will be at the home screen. Unlocking an iPhone X is noticeably faster than using Touch ID. One of the more common tasks is switching applications, this has also changed.

App Switching

The original iPhone allowed you to switch between applications by double-clicking on the home button. This function has remained through all iPhones, except for the iPhone X. Up through iPhone OS 3, when you switched to another app, your previous application would stop running, with a few exceptions like Music, or phone calls.

Back in 2010 when Apple released iOS 4 they introduced a game changing feature, the ability to multitask. When it was introduced, there were limitations in place that would curtail the types of applications that could use multitasking. Since then, many more apps have been able to take advantage of multitasking. The iPhone 8, as well as the iPad and other iPhone models, allow you to double-tap the home button to bring up multitasking. The iPhone X changes the method in which you bring up multitasking.

With iPhone X you swipe up from the bottom and rest your finger for a second towards the middle of the screen and the multitasking screen will appear. Once the screen appears, it should feel very familiar. You can then swipe to the left to locate the application that you want to switch to. There is one slight difference, that you may not initially notice. The corners on the previews of the apps match the iPhone X’s rounded corners.

The last method, which is exclusive to iPhone X, is to swipe in the lower portion of the screen, the portion that is near the “home indicator”. In this area you can swipe left or right near the home indicator, which is the ever present bar at the bottom of the screen. If you swipe left, you should be brought to the second most recently used app. Once here, you can swipe right and you will go back to the app that you just left. After approximately 30 seconds, you will no longer be able to swipe right again, as the app that you are using is now considered the “primary” app.

However, once you begin swiping, you can keep quickly swipe left or right through all of the open apps and you can find the one you wish to use.

Closing Apps

It is within smartphone folklore, for many, that closing applications will improve battery life and should be done all the time. This is just flat out not true. Even with the need to close apps not being present, there are still those times when an application may act up and you do indeed need to close it. This is done a bit differently on the iPhone X compared to other iPhones. First, you enter multitasking mode, as mentioned above, and then you tap and hold on an app. A red close indicator should then appear on each of the open applications.

Here you can either tap on a close indicator or you can swipe an app up toward the top of the screen. Either of these will close the application. The iPad, under iOS 11, has a slightly different interaction, you can swipe up from the dock on an iPad and as you keep swiping, it will bring up both Control Center as well as the iPad app switcher. In some ways, the iPad app switcher model gesture would work better, but Apple has chosen to go with this method.

Screenshots

Many users like to keep memories of things on their iPhone. Sometimes, this requires them to take a screenshot. On previous iPhones, this was done by pressing the power button and the home button at the same time. With the removal of the Home Button on the iPhone X, this gesture needs to change. Taking a screenshot still requires two buttons to be pressed, but instead of it being the home button and power button, it is now the power button and the volume up button that need to be pressed to take a screenshot. This gesture is actually a bit easier now, because you can simply squeeze the sides of the iPhone X to take a screenshot. The squeezing gesture may cause you to, inadvertently, end up taking more screenshots of your iPhone screen, but luckily you can easily remove those screenshots from your Photos.

The Notch

The notch is the most iconic piece of the iPhone X. With the inclusion of the notch, what remains is the two areas directly adjacent to the notch. When you are looking at cover sheet or the home screen, you will see some quick information, similar to previous iPhones.

One the left, you will see the carrier, while on cover sheet, or the time when using your iPhone X. On the right you will see current cellular signal, the battery icon, and whether you are on a Wifi or cellular connection.

If you pull down from the left side of the notch, you will be able to see your notifications. If you pull down on the right side of the notch, you will get Control Center.

There is an interaction that you may unconsciously do. On the iPhone 8, and prior iPhones, if you tap on the status bar, you will likely be able to scroll to the top of the application that you are using, if the developer has added support for this. Since the notch replaces the status bar, you might think that this gesture would go away. In fact, it remains. You can tap on the area just beneath the bottom part of the notch, and you will be scrolled up to the top of the screen, again if the developer has implemented this feature. There is one feature exclusive to the iPhone X that utilizes the components in the notch, that feature if Animoji.

Animoji

Language is not a static entity within life. There are a huge number of different languages across the world. Within these languages there are often dialects. When two people are attempting to communicate using two different languages that are in no way related, it may not be possible for them to effectively communicate since neither party can understand the other. When this occurs, it may become handy to have a means of communicating in a common language. When this language is not verbal, it can often be done using symbols. The symbols would have to be recognizable by both parties, and ideally would be universal. In today’s modern era, there is such a language. It is not a lingua franca, per se, but one that is a standard. That standard is called Emoji. You are likely aware of emoji, but in case you are not, here are a dozen examples.

πŸ΅πŸ€–πŸ˜ΈπŸΆπŸ‘½πŸ¦ŠπŸ’©πŸ·πŸΌπŸ°πŸ”πŸ¦„

Emoji can fill the need to be able to represent items in a consistent manner, at least on a platform by platform basis. This is because each platform can create their own representations of the emoji, but that is another issue entirely that is way behind the scope of this iPhone X review.

When Apple unveils a new product there is usually one feature that makes for a good demonstration of just what that product can do. For the iPhone X that feature is Animoji. Animoji take the big feature of the iPhone X, Face ID, and do something fun around it. Animoji take certain emoji characters and allows someone to use their face to animate those emoji. Face ID’s True Depth Camera will track the way that your face moves and it will mimic your movements onto those emoji. There are only certain segment of the entire emoji set that can be used within Animoji. There are twelve to be exact. The twelve are:

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Animoji is an application within Apple’s iMessage platform and is exclusive to the iPhone X. The Animoji iMessage app allows you to record a video clip that is up to 10 seconds long. Once you have recorded your Animoji video you can send it to someone else on iMessage, even if they do not have an iPhone X. You can practice what you want to say and choose whichever Animoji, out of the dozen above, that you wish. Some of the Animoji are more expressive than others so it is best to play with each Animoji to determine which one you really want to use

Animoji may not be used as much as other features of the iPhone, but for those who do use it, it is a fun feature and it can really show off the capabilities of the Face ID camera. Face ID is used for more than just unlocking your iPhone X or sending Animoji. That function is around passwords.

Face ID and Passwords

Imagine having to place your finger on the Touch ID sensor every time you wanted to have a username and password combination automatically filled in. Having to do this would quickly become an irritation and would likely turn off many from using Touch ID. While this may seem like an outlandish idea, this is exactly what Face ID does. Face ID will require you to authenticate with Face ID every time that it detects a pair of username and password fields. At first glance you might think that Face ID may not be a regression and would be rather burdensome, compared to Touch ID. Yet in practice I really do not find it to be the case. On a Touch ID-enabled iOS device, passwords are automatically filled in for you. While this is convenient, it is actually a bit less secure.

The reason that it is less secure is because as long as your Touch ID-enabled iOS device is unlocked, someone will have access to autofill passwords. If they are able to access your accounts, they can do some damage. With the iPhone X, this is not the case. Since Face ID automatically scans your face every time there is a need for a password, it is more secure. In most situations, you are looking at the iPhone X when you browse to a site and it needs to fill in your password, so Face ID will automatically authenticate you and fill in the necessary information. However, if someone does manage to get your iPhone X, you can be assured that it is unlikely that anyone will be able to access your accounts without you; that is unless they know your passcode or passphrase. There is one other area that involves authentication has changed, that is with Apple Pay.

Apple Pay

Apple Pay is one of the core pillars of Apple’s services strategy. Apple Pay may not have been the first mobile contactless payment method, but it has become one of the most popular. Apple Pay allows users to purchase items within apps, at retailers, or even on websites. The ability to use Apple Pay only enhances the interactions some users have with retailers.

Traditionally, with a Touch ID-enabled iPhone, you use the home button to authorize an Apple Pay payment. This changes with iPhone X. When you go to authorize an Apple Pay payment, you are still presented with the standard Apple Pay authorization screen that you are already used to. The iPhone X then requires that you double-click the side button to authorize a payment, similar to the way that one authorizes Apple Pay on an Apple Watch. When you authorize a payment, Face ID will verify that you are present and if there is a match, your payment will be authorized. If not, you can attempt a Face ID scan again. If this second attempt fails, you will be given the option of using your Apple ID’s password.

Possible Improvements

One area that developers do not need to get perfect, right off the bat anyway, is software. Unlike hardware, software can easily be updated and modified to function better. There are a couple of aspects to the iPhone X that could be modified to benefit a number of individuals, particularly surround the notch.

Once possible change that Apple could make would be to allow people the choice of which side is notifications and which side is control center. Depending on whether you use Notification Center more, or Control Center more. It would be nice, because if you use Control Center more, it can be difficult with the size of the iPhone X. An additional change that Apple could make would be to put Control Center in the app switcher, much like it is on the iPad. This would actually make it much easier for many users to be able to access Control Center.

Final Thoughts

With the iPhone X removing the home button, the interaction methods with different services has to change. The changes that have been implemented, using Face ID for authentication and double-clicking the side button to authorize the payment, are only slight variations to the old way of doing things. However, if you have an Apple Watch, the side button authorization is no different.

Face ID improves security for your passwords, as compared to older iPhones, due to Face ID needing to authenticate every password entry; whereas Touch ID-based iPhones automatically fill in your usernames and passwords all the time. Even though this sounds like it would be problematic, it really is not really a burden in practice. In all actuality, it is enhanced security.

The inclusion of Animoji will allow enhanced interactions between iMessage users as well as a means for demonstrating the capabilities of the iPhone X. The areas to the side of the notch are used to pull down notifications and control center, which for some users may be problematic and wish that they could reverse the two areas.. Next let us look at some considerations that developers need to make in order to support the iPhone X.

iPhone X Review: Camera

The third article for my iPhone X Review series will focus on a feature that is used by almost every iPhone user, the iPhone Camera.

One of the primary reason that users upgrade an iPhone is the capabilities of the camera. For many, including myself, their iPhone Camera is the primary camera they use. The iPhone camera has progressed substantially since the original iPhone in 2007.

iPhone Camera History

It has not always been the case that Apple has put an emphasis on the camera in the iPhone. While there has been a camera in the iPhone since the original iPhone, it has not always been of the highest quality. As an example, the original iPhone only had a 2 Megapixel camera, the same was the case for the iPhone 3G.

The iPhone 3GS improved the camera to a 3 Megapixel sensor with an Ζ’2.8 lens that allowed autofocus. The iPhone 3G also added a video camera. Granted, it was only a 480 pixels at 30 frames per second, but it was a video camera nonetheless, and in 2009 it was a nice feature to have in an iPhone. The iPhone 4 improved a bit more with a 5 megapixel camera and added a flash, which would help in those low light situations.

The iPhone 4s is the release when Apple really began taking the cameras on the iPhone as an important appeal factor and could be something to help bring users to the iPhone. the iPhone 4s included an 8MP back camera at an Ζ’2.4. This camera was capable of 1080p video recording. The back camera was upgraded, but the front facing camera remained relatively inept, in comparison to the back camera.

The iPhone 5 is when Apple began looking at the front-facing camera as just as important as the rear camera. As much as one might not like the term “selfie”, it has become part of the language and has also become the primary use of the front-facing camera. Applications like Instagram have really pushed people share photos of themselves, and the easiest means of doing so is by using the front-facing camera. The iPhone 5’s front camera had a 1.2 megapixelsensor with a resolution of 1280 by 960 pixels. The iPhone 5s added a new feature for the back camera, slow motion capture. This feature was limited to 720 pixels at 120 frames per second, but even at a lower resolution, it worked well and added some new capabilities that the iPhone did not have before.

The iPhone 6 was a game changer in terms of the iPhone in general, but in particular with the camera configuration. The iPhone 6 ushered in two different models, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus. The iPhone 6 saw a modest improvement to the camera with autofocus improvements.

The biggest change came with the iPhone 6 Plus and an all new dual camera system. This was a first for the iPhone. The iPhone 6 Plus had two lenses, one standard focal length and a “telephoto” lens. The telephoto lens would be capable of doing 2x optical zoom. Combining the 2x optical zoom with the 5x digital zoom meant that the iPhone could get up to 10x zoom. There was one last change with the iPhone 6 Plus was the optical image stabilization. Optical Image Stabilization provides the ability to stabilize the image and video that is being taken by an iPhone 6 Plus. This means that instead of getting a possibly grainy or shaky video, it can be stabilized so that it appears closer to being done on a tripod, or some other very stable object. This makes the quality of both images and video even better.

The iPhone 6s improved both the rear and front cameras. On the back, the camera were upgraded to 12 megapixels, up from 8 megapixels. This also allowed for the recording of 4K video on the rear camera. The iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus also allowed you to take an 8 megapixel picture while you were recording video, which would be very hand should the need arise.

The front camera on the iPhone 6s and iPhone 6s Plus also saw a significant improvement. The front camera was upgraded to a 5 megapixel sensor that was capable of recording 720p HD video. There was a new feature with this, a flash. However, this was not a traditional flash. Instead, the “flash” used the screen to simulate a flash. This “Retina Flash” would be very useful in low light situations and could help you create a more constant illumination when you decided to take a selfie.

The iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus changed the camera game a bit more. While there was still a 12 megapixel camera sensor, the quality had been significantly improved with an Ζ’1.8 lens. This is a super fast lens. The second lens on the iPhone 7 Plus included a 56mm Ζ’2.2 for the telephoto lens. Just as with the iPhone 6s, the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus front camera was improved. This time it was upgraded to a 7 megapixel sensor for even clearer photos.

The iPhone 7 Plus also included a feature specific to that model, a new camera mode. This way of taking pictures called “Portrait” mode. Portrait mode provides a way for an iPhone user to add a blurred background while keeping the subject of the picture still within focus. This is often referred to a “bokeh” effect. This was an entirely new feature to he iPhone. Portrait mode used some machine learning to try and determine where the person, or primary subject, ended and the background began. It would then blur out the background. The iPhone 7 Plus did all of this on the fly and you could preview Portrait mode before taking the picture.

The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus have the same cameras, for the most part, as the iPhone X. Let us dive into the iPhone X camera.

iPhone X Camera

The iPhone X takes what came before and gives it another huge upgrade. The iPhone X still sports a 12 megapixel camera sensor on the back. Alongside the 12 megapixel sensor there is still the Ζ’1.8 aperture. The telephoto lens is now an Ζ’2.4 aperture. This means that the telephoto lens should be faster in lower light situations, and should be able to take even better photos than before. The bigger improvement though is that the iPhone X has dual optical image stabilization. At first glance you may think that this is not a big deal, but in practice it is. Having the telephoto lens of the iPhone X also be optically stabilized will allow even better pictures, in all sorts of conditions. Besides better pictures, you will also get better video out of the iPhone X.

The front camera remains relatively unchanged, with the exception of a new feature, which is also present in the rear camera, Portrait lighting mode. Portrait lighting takes Portrait mode and allows you to add lighting effects to the picture you are taking. The best part is that you can add or change lighting effects after the fact and can even swap them around depending on what you find is the best filter for a particular photo.

When you use Portrait Lighting Mode, you can see a live preview of what the picture would look like when you use that particular filter. The actual filters that are available are:

  • Natural Light
  • Studio Light
  • Contour Light
  • Stage Light
  • Stage Light Mono

Each of these lighting options provides a slightly different look and feel to the portrait you are looking at. The last two, “Stage Light” and “Stage Light Mono” require you to place the face of the subject that you want to focus on within a circle. This circle is used to identify the subject. The lighting then takes this area and focuses the lighting effect on the subject.

As mentioned above, you can also take any High Efficiency Image Format (HEIF) picture taken with iOS 11, or later, and apply that effect to that image. This can be done on an iOS device or on a Mac running macOS High Sierra.

The iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus both have the 12 megapixel Ζ’/1.8 aperture wide-angle rear camera, but the iPhone 8 Plus has a 12 megapixel telephoto lens, but is at Ζ’/2.8 aperture. The iPhone 8 Plus also supports Portrait mode and Portrait Lighting. There is one last feature that is available on the cameras on the iPhone 8, iPhone 8 Plus, and iPhone X.

Here is an example of portrait mode and the same image with Stage Lighting applied.

Slow Sync

Slow Sync Flash will help make your photos even better than they were before. It does this by taking the True Tone flash and evens out all of the colors so that everything appears even better than before. This is accomplished by reducing the shutter speed to allow even more light and the iPhone’s signal processor will take the information it gathers and apply proper lighting to all aspects of the picture; this includes the items in the foreground as well as those in the background. This should work quite well in low light situations as well as with Portrait photos.

Some Examples from the iPhone X

Final Thoughts on iPhone X Camera

The iPhone X camera is a great update from the camera in the older iPhone models, and even over the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus. The iPhone X has one benefit over the iPhone 8 Plus, the dual optical image stabilization with the telephoto lens. This stabilization works for both still images as well as video. The new Portrait Lighting effects will add a bit of depth to your If you are upgrading from an iPhone 6s, or earlier model, the iPhone X will be a significant and worthwhile upgrade.

The addition of Slow Sync Flash will allow better photos in even more lighting conditions. The inclusion of the new Portrait Lighting feature allows users to take Portrait photos and apply specific lighting effects. With Portrait mode and the new High Efficiency Image Format, users can even apply different formats after the fact, should they decide to give a different lighting effect a try later. If your iPhone is your primary camera, you cannot go wrong with the iPhone X in this respect.

There are some additional items related to the camera within the iPhone X. Those items are related to the new feature called Face ID, which will be the subject of the next part of the review.

iPhone Availability for 12/06/2017 (Evening)

Below is the iPhone Availability for the evening of December 6th, 2017. This is accurate as of 5:00PM Central time. iPhone X on Sprint is now available, for most models. If you want an iPhone X before the holidays, it is possibly best to order it from Apple.

Changes for Apple

  • AT&T – 64GB Silver iPhone X has changed from Dec 12 to Dec 14
  • AT&T – 256GB Silver iPhone X has changed from Dec 12 to Dec 14
  • AT&T – 64GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from Dec 12 to Dec 14
  • AT&T – 256GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from Dec 12 to Dec 14
  • Sprint – 64GB Silver iPhone X has changed from Dec 12 to Dec 14
  • Sprint – 256GB Silver iPhone X has changed from Dec 12 to Dec 14
  • Sprint – 64GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from Dec 12 to Dec 14
  • Sprint – 256GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from Dec 12 to Dec 14
  • T-Mobile – 64GB Silver iPhone X has changed from Dec 12 to Dec 14
  • T-Mobile – 256GB Silver iPhone X has changed from Dec 12 to Dec 14
  • T-Mobile – 64GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from Dec 12 to Dec 14
  • T-Mobile – 256GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from Dec 12 to Dec 14
  • Verizon – 64GB Silver iPhone X has changed from Dec 12 to Dec 14
  • Verizon – 256GB Silver iPhone X has changed from Dec 12 to Dec 14
  • Verizon – 64GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from Dec 12 to Dec 14
  • Verizon – 256GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from Dec 12 to Dec 14

Changes for the Carriers

  • AT&T – 64GB Silver iPhone X has changed from Dec 6, 2017 to Dec 11, 2017
  • AT&T – 256GB Silver iPhone X has changed from Dec 22, 2017 to Dec 28, 2017
  • AT&T – 64GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from Dec 6, 2017 to Dec 11, 2017
  • AT&T – 256GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from Jan 2, 2018 to Jan 5, 2018
  • Sprint – 64GB Silver iPhone X has changed from 12/1 – 12/6 to Available now
  • Sprint – 64GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from 12/4 to Available now
  • Sprint – 256GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from 12/4 to Available now
  • T-Mobile – 64GB Silver iPhone X has changed from 12/04/17 to 12/08/17
  • T-Mobile – 64GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from 12/04/17 to 12/08/17
  • Verizon – 256GB Silver iPhone X has changed from 12/13/2017 to Available

iPhone 8
AT&T 64GB 256GB
Silver Tomorrow Tomorrow
Gold Tomorrow Tomorrow
Space Gray Tomorrow Tomorrow
Sprint 64GB 256GB
Silver Tomorrow Tomorrow
Gold Tomorrow Tomorrow
Space Gray Tomorrow Tomorrow
T-Mobile 64GB 256GB
Silver Tomorrow Tomorrow
Gold Tomorrow Tomorrow
Space Gray Tomorrow Tomorrow
Verizon 64GB 256GB
Silver Tomorrow Tomorrow
Gold Tomorrow Tomorrow
Space Gray Tomorrow Tomorrow
iPhone 8 Plus
AT&T 64GB 256GB
Silver Tomorrow Tomorrow
Gold Tomorrow Tomorrow
Space Gray Tomorrow Tomorrow
Sprint 64GB 256GB
Silver Tomorrow Tomorrow
Gold Tomorrow Tomorrow
Space Gray Tomorrow Tomorrow
T-Mobile 64GB 256GB
Silver Tomorrow Tomorrow
Gold Tomorrow Tomorrow
Space Gray Tomorrow Tomorrow
Verizon 64GB 256GB
Silver Tomorrow Tomorrow
Gold Tomorrow Tomorrow
Space Gray Tomorrow Tomorrow
iPhone X
AT&T 64GB 256GB
Silver Dec 14 Dec 14
Space Gray Dec 14 Dec 14
Sprint 64GB 256GB
Silver Dec 14 Dec 14
Space Gray Dec 14 Dec 14
T-Mobile 64GB 256GB
Silver Dec 14 Dec 14
Space Gray Dec 14 Dec 14
Verizon 64GB 256GB
Silver Dec 14 Dec 14
Space Gray Dec 14 Dec 14

iPhone 8 – from Carriers
AT&T 64GB 256GB
Silver Dec 11, 2017 Dec 11, 2017
Gold Dec 11, 2017 Dec 11, 2017
Space Gray Dec 11, 2017 Dec 11, 2017
Sprint 64GB 256GB
Silver Available Available
Gold Available Available
Space Gray Available Available
T-Mobile 64GB 256GB
Silver 12/08/17 12/08/17
Gold 12/08/17 12/08/17
Space Gray 12/08/17 12/08/17
Verizon 64GB 256GB
Silver Available Available
Gold Available Available
Space Gray Available Available

iPhone 8 Plus – from Carriers
AT&T 64GB 256GB
Silver Dec 11, 2017 Dec 11, 2017
Gold Dec 11, 2017 Dec 11, 2017
Space Gray Dec 11, 2017 Dec 11, 2017
Sprint 64GB 256GB
Silver Available Available
Gold Available Available
Space Gray Available Available
T-Mobile 64GB 256GB
Silver 12/08/17 12/08/17
Gold 12/08/17 12/18/17
Space Gray 12/08/17 12/08/17
Verizon 64GB 256GB
Silver Available Available
Gold Available Available
Space Gray Available Available

iPhone X – from Carriers
AT&T 64GB 256GB
Silver Dec 11, 2017 Dec 28, 2017
Space Gray Dec 11, 2017 Jan 5, 2018
Sprint 64GB 256GB
Silver Available now 12/15
Space Gray Available now Available now
T-Mobile 64GB 256GB
Silver 12/08/17 12/26/17
Space Gray 12/08/17 12/15/17
Verizon 64GB 256GB
Silver Available Available
Space Gray Available Available

iPhone X Review: Face ID

In the second article of my on going iPhone X review, I will focus on a completely new feature for iPhones and iOS, Face ID.

When an entity implements a way of protecting information, it is a trade off of two factors: security and convenience. The ideal is to make something secure yet not so burdensome for the user that they would not use it.

There is one thing that Apple takes seriously, when it comes to their customers. That item is security. When the iPhone was originally released the only security allowed was a four digit passcode. This made it quite convenient when you needed to unlock your iPhone. While there was only a limited number passcodes that could be chosen, there is an option for users to erase data after ten invalid passcode attempts. Even if a user decides not to erase the content, there is an every increasing timeout for each invalid guess.

As iOS matured, and technology in the iPhone advanced, additional passcode options were added. If you opted to you could create a longer than 4 digit passcode. While it is easy for many users to remember a four, or even six, digit passcode, it is not the best security method. While there are many times when a user may wish to use a secure and long passcode, given the potential number of situations where a user may have to enter in their passphrase, some users could be turned off by this. When this occurs they may end up reverting to a less secure passcode.

To help deter this behavior, but also to provide some convenience, Apple introduced a new feature in 2013 with the release of the iPhone 5s. The iPhone 5s introduced a new feature called Touch ID. Touch ID could be used not only for unlocking an iPhone, but could also be used for purchasing items from the iTunes Store, Apple Store, or even within apps. Touch ID is also capable of unlocking files within applications, or even unlocking applications themselves; provided the developer included this functionality.

Touch ID allows users to have a more convenient method of performing these actions. The biggest benefit of Touch ID is that users did not have to constantly enter in their passcode, or passphrase. Instead they could register their fingerprint with their iPhone and use their finger to authenticate themselves for purchases or for unlocking their device.

There are often times that an iPhone user may want to allow others access to their iOS device. This could be a child, spouse, or anyone whom with they trust their iOS device. How does Apple guarantee the security of the fingerprints that are put into an iOS device?

Touch ID Security

When somebody thinks that their fingerprint can be used to perform a transaction, they may be deterred because of misinformation. Apple’s take on security is one where it wants its users to feel secure and know that their information will not be compromised. The manner in which Touch ID actually works is by not taking an image of your fingerprint, instead iOS creates a mathematical representation of the fingerprint that you are registering. This mathematical representation is held within the Secure Enclave of the A7, or newer, chip. Nothing has direct access to what is stored on the chip. There is a direction connection between the Touch ID sensor and the secure enclave and nothing in between. This is the first step in the securing of a fingerprint.

Users often want to use their iPhone to make purchases. This could be from the iOS App Store, the iTunes Store, or even from within an application. While many users may trust Apple with their information, they may be less trusting off a third-party developer. If a developer implements Touch ID, when they request a fingerprint, they do not get access to the Secure Enclave to pull in the fingerprint information. Instead the developer requests that user authenticate with Touch ID, and the developer gets back a simple “Yes” or “No” as to whether the Touch ID fingerprint hash matches the one saved in the secure enclave.

With Touch ID you could have up to five fingerprints registered for any single iOS device. This could allow various individuals to use the Touch ID sensor without necessarily needing to enter in the passcode or passphrase. Yet, there were still instances when Touch ID would require the passcode or passphrase again.

When Touch ID did not work

There are a number of situations where the passcode or passphrase to an iOS drive would be needed before Touch ID could be used. The most common is when a user rebooted the iOS device, the passcode or passphrase would be needed. A second occasion would be if the iOS device had not been unlocked with Touch ID in the last 48 hours. This was a security measure to allow users to feel safe knowing their data could be retrieved without the passcode or passphrase. The third would be if Touch ID failed to authenticate five times in a row. Again, this was a precautionary feature in case someone was trying to purposely, or inadvertently, unlock a Touch ID-protected iOS device.

There could be many possible other occasions when Touch ID would fail. One that was often encountered by users is if their finger was wet and Touch ID could not get a good match. One possible work-around for this specific condition was to register a fingerprint while your finger was wet. This would not work 100% of the time, but it could work in many cases.

One of the features of the iPhone X is the edge to edge screen. This results in there being no home button. How does one handle authentication without a home button and no Touch ID? This is where Face ID comes into play.

Face ID

Face ID is akin to Touch ID in the fact that both are biometric. Instead of using a fingerprint, Face ID uses different aspects of your face to unlock your iPhone X. If you upgrade from an older iPhone and you have allowed some applications access to Touch ID, those apps that you have allowed should request access to use Face ID. If you grant them access, it should work in the same manner as Touch ID. Let us look at the sensors that make up Face ID.

True Depth Camera

Face ID uses a number of sensors that are stored within the notch on the iPhone X. The sensors within the notch are collectively called the “True Depth Camera”. There are a number of sensors included within the True Depth sensor.

There are some sensors within the True Depth Camera, but these are not unique to the iPhone X. This group of sensors is:

  • Proximity sensor
  • Ambient light sensor
  • Speaker
  • Microphone
  • Front Camera

Let us look at the iPhone X specific sensors. These sensors include:

  • Infrared Camera
  • Flood illuminate
  • Dot projector

Face ID Setup

When you setup Touch ID Face ID requires a lot less setup than Touch ID. With Touch ID you were required to place and lift your finger approximately ten times in order to allow Touch ID to get a good reading on your finger. With Touch ID there are only two steps. You have to scan you Face twice. That is all that is required to configure Face ID. When you setup Face ID you have to turn your head in a circle to allow the Tru

How Face ID Works

The three sensors mentioned above, the Infrared Camera, Flood Illuminator, and Dot Projector, all work in conjunction with each other to allow Face ID to operate in all sorts of lighting conditions. The Dot Projector will put over 30,000 individual points of light on your face. Each iPhone X has its own pattern for these dots. This allows Face ID to always use the same places, but adds an additional layer of security. By not having a singular pattern with every iPhone, if someone were able to get the data stored within the Secure Enclave, it would effectively become useless, because the patterns for each iPhone is different. This is similar as to including a per-user hash to secure passwords. The infrared camera will then begin to scan your face and if it closely matches what is stored in the Secure Enclave, it will unlock your iPhone X.

If for some reason, Face ID cannot get a close enough match, it will request the iPhone X’s passcode. If this is entered properly, Face ID will incorporate the readings that it could not match, and learn so that it may be able to match better the next time.

Learning

Fingerprints are unlikely to change over one’s lifetime. But, one’s physical facial features may change quite often. One of the upsides to Face ID is that it can learn. Face ID is able to learn due to its own custom neural network which is used to detect a face even when different aspects change. You can change your hair, add or remove a beard, glasses (including sunglasses), or any number of possible variations and Face ID should be able to detect you. If Face ID does in fact fail to recognize you and you immediately enter in your passcode, the Face ID algorithm will learn that its false detection should have been a success. This helps allow Face ID to recognize you more often.

Face ID Security

In the same manner that Touch ID stored its mathematical representation of your fingerprint in the Secure Enclave, Face ID also stores its learnings in the iPhone X’s Secure Enclave. What is stored in the Secure Enclave is more than just the representation of your face, but also the initial scan with the 30,000 individual dots that was scanned. This is stored so that Face ID can learn about your face and re-apply the latest machine learning, through neural engines, that are available. This means that Apple can update their algorithm and not require you to take another new face scan.

Just like with Touch ID, developers do not have access to this data. Even with the Face ID camera, the learning engine and sensor data that is available to Apple and iOS, is not available to developers. This means that they will not have the same range of data available to Apple, but this is likely for your best interest.

Attention Awareness

There is an additional feature of Face ID that also doubles as a security feature. That feature is “Attention Awareness”. There are actually two options to “Attention Awareness” within Settings -> Face ID & Passcode that can be set. The first is “Require Attention for Face ID”. This setting will verify that you are actively looking at your iPhone X before it will unlock. There is a possible downside to this setting. Some sunglasses, particularly if they block infrared, will not allow this to work. In those cases you will have to remove the sunglasses before this feature will work.

The second option is “Attention Aware Features”. This setting will check for attention before dimming the screen or reducing the volume for alerts. With this setting enabled if you are actively looking at your iPhone X and an alert comes in, the notification volume will be reduced because you should already be able to see the notification on the screen. The other aspect to this setting is that if you are looking at the screen it will not dim, after the timeout that you have set. While the dimming of the screen is on all other iPhone Models, with Face ID this can be mitigated on the iPhone X, which will allow for an overall better experience.

Tradeoffs

No matter whom the source of a new piece of technology is there are bound to be some tradeoffs; Face ID is no different in this manner. With Touch ID you are able to register up to five fingerprints on a single device. Face ID suffers a bit in this area. As of right now, Face ID only allows you to register a single face.

This is a first generation product and it will only improve over time. It is entirely possible that Apple left storage space within the Secure Enclave for more than one face, but Apple may not be confident enough that the neural networks that are working with Face ID are able to differentiate individuals enough to allow a second face to be registered.

Imperfection

While Face ID has better security, one in a million chance of unlocking with Face ID versus one in fifty-thousand with Touch ID, there are still some cases when Face ID may fail to recognize you. There are certain aspects to a face that Face ID must be able to see in order to get a positive detection. This includes, your eyes, nose, and mouth. As long as these items are present, Face ID should work. There are some other areas where Face ID may not work properly.

If you are under 13, your facial features may not be distinct enough to work. However, if you are able to successfully train Face ID with someone who is under 13, and they have siblings, this may be a way to allow all of them to unlock an iPhone X using their face. This may only be a temporary solution, but it may work. Similarly, if you have an identical twin, they will likely be able to unlock your iPhone X. Along these lines, if you have two, or more, family members who look similar, you can train Face ID to allow those individuals to unlock it. iMore has a good write up about a pair of brothers who did just that.

Final Thoughts on Face ID

Is Face ID perfect? No, it is not. Even with some of its limitations, Face ID is a a good iteration on Touch ID for the iPhone X. The biggest downside of Face ID is that only one face can be registered at a time. This will affect those who wish to allow others easier access to their devices, instead of having to enter in a passcode every time. Unfortunately, it is what it is. The convenience of Face ID over Touch ID cannot be understated. In most interactions, when your face needs to be scanned, you are already looking at the iPhone X and the scan is so quick, it is not really an inconvenience.

Face ID takes the convenience of Touch ID and supercharges it. Face ID on the iPhone X is a complete game changer, not just for security but for overall convenience. There are some specific items related to Face ID that require their own in-depth look. These are Animoji, Apple Pay, Gestures, and Passwords and these are the focus of the next article.

Setting up Apple Pay Cash

One of the features that Apple announced for iOS 11 is Person to Person Apple Pay. This is now available in iOS 11.2. Apple Pay Cash will allow you to both request and send money to others via an iMessage app. Whether you request or send money it will go onto an Apple Pay Cash card. With this card you can pay for items wherever Apple Pay is available. This could be within iTunes, in-app purchases, or any store that accepts Apple Pay.

One of the possible uses for Apple Pay Cash could be for parents to provide their children the ability to buy things within iTunes, without worry about having the items deducted from their credit card. Apple Pay Cash will also be a boon to allow you to send money to one of your friends, or family, for your portion of a meal or gift, or if you owe someone money and need to pay them. Setting up Apple Pay Cash is quite simple. There are only a few steps needed to setup Apple Pay Cash. Those steps are as follows:

  1. Open Wallet.
  2. Tap “Set Up Apple Pay Cash”.
  3. Tap “Continue”.
  4. Tap on “Agree” to Terms and Conditions (after reading it of course).
  5. Wait for Apple Pay to Setup. You will then be passed back to Apple Wallet.
  6. Wait for Card to be activated.
  7. Once activated you are done. You can begin requesting or sending money in Messages on iOS.

That is all you need to do to setup Apple Pay Cash. With Apple Pay Cash you can transfer the money you receive out to a bank account, if desired. Once you setup your banking information, you will need to verify your identify. You can also leave the money on your Apple Pay Cash card and use it as you would any other Apple Pay terminal.

Adding Money

One of the benefits of having an Apple Pay Cash card is being able to add money, when it is needed. This is easy to do from within the Wallet app. To add money to your Apple Pay Cash card, perform the following steps:

  1. Open the Apple Wallet App.
  2. Tap on The Apple Pay Cash card.
  3. Tap on the indicator button to bring up the information about your Apple Pay Cash card.
  4. Tap on the “Add Money” button.
  5. Select the amount you wish to add. The minimum amount is $10.

  6. Tap on the “Add” button in the upper right corner.
  7. Select the card to deduct the money from.
  8. You will need to confirm with Face ID, Touch ID, or a passcode.
  9. Once you confirm the payment, your Apple Pay Cash card balance will be updated.

There is one thing to remember when adding money to your Apple Pay Cash card. That piece of information is that the card that you use to add money must either be a debit or prepaid card. You cannot use a credit card for transferring money.

Apple Pay Cash is, currently only available within the United States. It should roll out to other countries over time. However, if you are in the U.S. and you are running iOS 11.2, you should be able to use Apple Pay Cash.

iPhone X: A Review for Users and Developers

So I have started posting my iPhone X review. The first article focuses on the Screen. As mentioned in that article I normally write one giant review. But for the iPhone X, given its myriad of new features and just how much it change the idea of an iPhone, I opted to break it up into different articles. I have decided to bundle them all up into a single e-book, in case that is easier for you to read it in one fell swoop.

iPhone X: A Review for developers and users covers many of the new features of the iPhone X. Some of these topics include: the Screen, Face ID, Animoji, Apple Pay, Gestures, and Passwords, aspects of the iPhone X that developers need to consider, wireless charging, and some thoughts on going from an iPhone 7 Plus to an iPhone X.

iPhone X: A Review for Users and Developers is available as an e-pub book. You can buy the iPhone X: A Review e-book for $1.99 from Amazon or for $0.99 from Apple.

iPhone X Review: Screen

Normally I do a single large review of Apple devices. For products like the Apple TV, where the updates that have been made are minimal, and this approach makes sense. With the iPhone X, however, there are so many new features and so many aspects that have changed. To keep it to a short review would not be giving the iPhone X its due. With this information, my iPhone X review requires a different approach. To that end, my iPhone X review will be broken into multiple reviews with each focusing on a different feature. The first of the is about the screen, but before we delve into that, let us briefly look at the models of the iPhone that have existed.

iPhone Models

The iPhone X is not the tenth iPhone as one might expect. In fact it is actually the thirteenth iPhone model. That is is if you count the β€œPlus” models as the same as the standard sized phones. If you do count the Plus-sized models as their own, then the iPhone X is the seventeenth iPhone. In counting it as the seventeenth iPhone, that does not include the differentiation between the GSM and CDMA versions, nor does it count the various colors. The actual list of iPhones is as follows:

  • iPhone
  • iPhone 3G
  • iPhone 3GS
  • iPhone 4
  • iPhone 4s
  • iPhone 5
  • iPhone 5s
  • iPhone 5c
  • iPhone 6
  • iPhone 6 Plus
  • iPhone 6s
  • iPhone 6s Plus
  • iPhone 7
  • iPhone 7 Plus
  • iPhone 8
  • iPhone 8 Plus
  • iPhone X

Each iPhone model has improved on the past ones and has brought its own new features to the iPhone lineup. The most common piece that is interacted with on each iPhone is indeed the screen.

Screen History

The history of smartphone screens is as varied as the history of computer screens. Different technologies have been used throughout the year. The iPhone has only used glass for the screen, in particular gorilla glass by Corning. Besides being the toughest glass available, according to Corning, it has helped shape the iPhone into what it has become.

The underlying technology for the iPhone has been LCD. The first three iPhones, the original iPhone, the iPhone 3G and the iPhone 3GS, all had 480 pixels by 320 pixel screens. This was the exact number of pixels on each screen. The screen was upgraded to a 960 by 640 pixel screen with the iPhone 4 and iPhone 4s. The iPhone 5 and iPhone 5s increased the screen resolution to 640 pixels by 1136 pixels; making it slightly taller.

The iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus changed the sizing again, to two entirely new screen sizes, 1334 pixels by 750 pixels for the iPhone 6; and for the first time on an iPhone a true 1080p screen, at 1920 by 1080 pixels, with the iPhone 6 Plus. The iPhone 6 Plus and subsequent releases, the iPhone 6s Plus, iPhone 7 Plus, and iPhone 8 Plus, assets needed to be at 3x resolution. These models then scaled these assets to accommodate the actual size of the screen.

This is where the iPhone stood, until the release of the iPhone X.

The Iconic Features

While the iPhone was definitely not the first smartphone on the market, far from it. However, the original iPhone, when it was unveiled in January of 2007, was shown as the first smartphone to go screen only with no physical keyboard. While there were definitely those who doubted that the iPhone would sell and last, they were wrong. Beyond becoming a best selling series of phone as well as the most profitable, the original iPhone became the iconic representation of a smart phone. The iconic features included the square screen, rounded corners on bezel, and the home button.

The size of the iPhone remained unchanged until the iPhone 5, when the screen size went to a 4-inch screen, up from the iconic 3.5-inch screen. The size was the same for the 5s, but changed with the introduction of the next iPhone, the iPhone 6 and its larger version the iPhone 6 Plus. These two sizes then became the iconic smart phone depictions.

This definition of an iPhone has been updated again with the iPhone X. The iPhone X has removed the home button and significantly reduced the front bezels. The entire front is now glass with no home button. The removal of the home button changes not only the look and feel, but also the interaction methodology.

iPhone X Screen

Besides the edge-to-edge bezel of the iPhone X, there is another change to the iPhone X screen, it is an OLED display. Apple calls the screen on the iPhone X a “Super Retina HD” display. One of the benefits of OLED is that the blacks that are shown can be even darker than those on traditional LEDs. What this means is that when you see a pixel, or set of pixels, that is black in color it is a bit darker than a black pixel on an LED screen. The same goes for white pixels as well. Ultimately, this means that the colors that can be shown can be even better.

One of Apple’s other products, the Apple Watch, has had an OLED screen since its first model. One of the recommendations from Apple is to make sure that the background of any watchOS app is black. This is not only done to make watchOS applications aesthetically pleasing but it is also for an additional reason.

The benefits of OLED over traditional LED includes lower power usage, versus traditional LEDs. OLED is able to only turn on the individual pixels as they are needed. By not always having to power on every pixel, battery life can be extended. While nobody will argue that any iPhone that can get better battery life is a good thing, having more battery life on a wearable is even more important.

There is another feature that is new to the iPhone that has not been in an iPhone before, but is present on the 10.5-inch iPad Pro, and the 2nd generation iPad Pro. That feature is High Dynamic Range, or HDR. HDR allows colors to be go beyond the traditional limits and uses a wider color gamut to make colors even more rich and vibrant. While HDR is easily noticeable with photos and with video. If you have a movie that support HDR, or Dolby Vision, you will be able to watch it with the enhanced colors.

The Notch

One of the most prominent features of the iPhone X, and the one that most users immediately notice, is the notch. The notch houses a number of sensors, which will all be discussed in a later article. But the notch itself is absolutely new. Never before has an iPhone had an edge to edge display, and one of the decisions that Apple had to make was how to be able to get everything onto the screen of the iPhone X. One possible way was to just have a black strip above the screen, but taking this route would create an asymmetrical and would wholly out of place.

There is no doubt that Apple attempted to get the sensors that occupy the notch, under the screen. However, Apple was not able to accomplish this, like they may have liked. Instead, the notch creates two areas where there is some areas for controls.

The notch does create a very distinct and unique look to the iPhone. It is very likely, that in a matter of time, when someone thinks of an iPhone, they will think of the screen design of the iPhone X.

Screen Size

With the iPhone X being effectively sans-bezel, the physical size of the iPhone X is defined by the size of the screen. On the iPhone X the screen is 5.8-inches diagonally. This is three tenths of an inch larger than the screen on the iPhone 7 or iPhone 8. The iPhone X is closer in size to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 8, much much closer.

The iPhone 8 is 5.45 inches tall by 2.65 inches wide. The iPhone X is 5.65 inches tall by 2.79 inches wide. If you take the size of the iPhone X and compare to the iPhone 8 Plus, at 6.24 inches tall by 3.07 inches wide, you will notice that it approximately 18.8 percent smaller. This is a significant decrease in size. This size fits in between the iPhone 8 and the iPhone 8 Plus sizes.

There is one last aspect to the screen that should be noted. The actual screen itself is different in one last way. The screen itself has rounded corners. Each of the previous iPhones has had rounded glass, but each of the previous screens has been square. The rounded aspects were the bezels and the glass was the same radius as the corners of the iPhone.

With the iPhone X, this is the first time that the screen itself has been rounded. The new design introduces some new design challenges for developers. This aspect of the screen will be covered in another article.

Final Thoughts on the iPhone X Screen

The iPhone X’s screen is the best screen that Apple has ever put on any of their products. The OLED display on the iPhone X really does make a huge difference when using the phone. The inclusion of HDR is absolutely noticeable if you are coming from a previous iPhone, and is seen particularly well when watching an HDR-enabled video.

The iPhone X’s screen size provides the largest screen on any iPhone, up to this point, and all in a slightly larger package than the iPhone 8. This will not be much of an adjustment for those who are accustom to the mid-sized phones of the iPhone 8, but may be an adjustment for those who have been using a plus-sized phone. There will be more about that in a later article. The next topic to be covered is a new feature that is exclusive to the iPhone X, for now. That feature is Face ID.

iPhone availability for 12/03/2017 (Morning)

Here is the iPhone availability for 12/03/2017. This is accurate as of 9:45AM. The biggest changes have occurred around the iPhone X with Apple. Ship times are down to about a week, which is a vast improvement from a month ago when the iPhone X was released. There is still some time to order and receive an iPhone X in time for the holidays.

Changes for Apple

  • AT&T – 64GB Silver iPhone X has changed from Dec 13 – Dec 20 to Dec 12
  • AT&T – 256GB Silver iPhone X has changed from Dec 13 – Dec 20 to Dec 12
  • AT&T – 64GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from Dec 13 – Dec 20 to Dec 12
  • AT&T – 256GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from Dec 13 – Dec 20 to Dec 12
  • Sprint – 64GB Silver iPhone X has changed from Dec 13 – Dec 20 to Dec 12
  • Sprint – 256GB Silver iPhone X has changed from Dec 13 – Dec 20 to Dec 12
  • Sprint – 64GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from Dec 13 – Dec 20 to Dec 12
  • Sprint – 256GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from Dec 13 – Dec 20 to Dec 12
  • T-Mobile – 64GB Silver iPhone X has changed from Dec 13 – Dec 20 to Dec 12
  • T-Mobile – 256GB Silver iPhone X has changed from Dec 13 – Dec 20 to Dec 12
  • T-Mobile – 64GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from Dec 13 – Dec 20 to Dec 12
  • T-Mobile – 256GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from Dec 13 – Dec 20 to Dec 12
  • Verizon – 64GB Silver iPhone X has changed from Dec 13 – Dec 20 to Dec 12
  • Verizon – 256GB Silver iPhone X has changed from Dec 13 – Dec 20 to Dec 12
  • Verizon – 64GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from Dec 13 – Dec 20 to Dec 12
  • Verizon – 256GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from Dec 13 – Dec 20 to Dec 12

Changes for the Carriers

  • AT&T – 64GB Silver iPhone X has changed from Dec 4, 2017 to Dec 6, 2017
  • AT&T – 256GB Silver iPhone X has changed from Dec 20, 2017 to Dec 22, 2017
  • AT&T – 64GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from Dec 4, 2017 to Dec 6, 2017
  • AT&T – 256GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from Dec 28, 2017 to Jan 2, 2018
  • Sprint – 64GB Silver iPhone X has changed from 12/8 to 12/1 – 12/6
  • Sprint – 64GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from 12/8 to 12/4
  • T-Mobile – 64GB Silver iPhone X has changed from 12/01/17 to 12/05/17
  • T-Mobile – 256GB Silver iPhone X has changed from 01/02/18 to 12/26/17
  • T-Mobile – 64GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from 12/08/17 to 12/05/17
  • T-Mobile – 256GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from 12/08/17 to 12/15/17
  • Verizon – 256GB Space Gray iPhone X has changed from 12/13/2017 to Available
iPhone 8
AT&T 64GB 256GB
Silver Tue Dec 5 Tue Dec 5
Gold Tue Dec 5 Tue Dec 5
Space Gray Tue Dec 5 Tue Dec 5
Sprint 64GB 256GB
Silver Tue Dec 5 Tue Dec 5
Gold Tue Dec 5 Tue Dec 5
Space Gray Tue Dec 5 Tue Dec 5
T-Mobile 64GB 256GB
Silver Tue Dec 5 Tue Dec 5
Gold Tue Dec 5 Tue Dec 5
Space Gray Tue Dec 5 Tue Dec 5
Verizon 64GB 256GB
Silver Tue Dec 5 Tue Dec 5
Gold Tue Dec 5 Tue Dec 5
Space Gray Tue Dec 5 Tue Dec 5
iPhone 8 Plus
AT&T 64GB 256GB
Silver Tue Dec 5 Tue Dec 5
Gold Tue Dec 5 Tue Dec 5
Space Gray Tue Dec 5 Tue Dec 5
Sprint 64GB 256GB
Silver Tue Dec 5 Tue Dec 5
Gold Tue Dec 5 Tue Dec 5
Space Gray Tue Dec 5 Tue Dec 5
T-Mobile 64GB 256GB
Silver Tue Dec 5 Tue Dec 5
Gold Tue Dec 5 Tue Dec 5
Space Gray Tue Dec 5 Tue Dec 5
Verizon 64GB 256GB
Silver Tue Dec 5 Tue Dec 5
Gold Tue Dec 5 Tue Dec 5
Space Gray Tue Dec 5 Tue Dec 5
iPhone X
AT&T 64GB 256GB
Silver Dec 12 Dec 12
Space Gray Dec 12 Dec 12
Sprint 64GB 256GB
Silver Dec 12 Dec 12
Space Gray Dec 12 Dec 12
T-Mobile 64GB 256GB
Silver Dec 12 Dec 12
Space Gray Dec 12 Dec 12
Verizon 64GB 256GB
Silver Dec 12 Dec 12
Space Gray Dec 12 Dec 12

iPhone 8 – from Carriers
AT&T 64GB 256GB
Silver Dec 6, 2017 Dec 6, 2017
Gold Dec 6, 2017 Dec 6, 2017
Space Gray Dec 6, 2017 Dec 6, 2017
Sprint 64GB 256GB
Silver Available Available
Gold Available Available
Space Gray Available Available
T-Mobile 64GB 256GB
Silver 12/13/17 12/05/17
Gold 12/05/17 12/05/17
Space Gray 12/05/17 12/05/17
Verizon 64GB 256GB
Silver Available Available
Gold Available Available
Space Gray Available Available

iPhone 8 Plus – from Carriers
AT&T 64GB 256GB
Silver Dec 6, 2017 Dec 6, 2017
Gold Dec 6, 2017 Dec 6, 2017
Space Gray Dec 6, 2017 Dec 6, 2017
Sprint 64GB 256GB
Silver Available Available
Gold Available Available
Space Gray Available Available
T-Mobile 64GB 256GB
Silver 12/05/17 12/06/17
Gold 12/05/17 12/20/17
Space Gray 12/05/17 12/05/17
Verizon 64GB 256GB
Silver Available Available
Gold Available Available
Space Gray Available Available

iPhone X – from Carriers
AT&T 64GB 256GB
Silver Dec 6, 2017 Dec 22, 2017
Space Gray Dec 6, 2017 Jan 2, 2018
Sprint 64GB 256GB
Silver 12/1 – 12/6 12/15
Space Gray 12/4 12/4
T-Mobile 64GB 256GB
Silver 12/05/17 12/26/17
Space Gray 12/05/17 12/15/17
Verizon 64GB 256GB
Silver Available 12/13/2017
Space Gray Available Available