If you’ve been following the launch of Apple’s new iPhone X (pronounced “iPhone ten”) like I have, you may have caught wind that the first public demo of its new facial ID unlocking feature was a giant fail, but not something a little clarification couldn’t remedy.
In case you missed the embarrassing live demo blunder, here’s a quick recap (video here):
During Apple’s iPhone X reveal event at the Steve Jobs Theater on Tuesday, Apple software engineer Craig Federighi hadn’t been on stage long before encountering a “glitch” while demonstrating how to unlock the new iPhone X.
“Unlocking it is as easy as looking at it and swiping up,” he said, picking up the iPhone at his podium. “And—you know—“
As you can probably guess, the phone didn’t unlock. Then, a second attempt…
“Let’s try that again.” Federighi said with a nervous laugh.
After a second failure and being prompted by the phone to enter his passcode (which defeats the purpose of using facial ID), Federighi grabbed a backup phone from the podium, which worked as advertised, allowing him to continue on with his demonstration. Awkward!
Media outlets and critics were quick to consider this mishap a flaw in Apple’s new technology, with headlines scattering the internet yesterday,
“Apple suffers embarrassing demo Face ID fail at iPhone X launch,” - Telegraph
“Apple’s Face ID unlocking failed during its big demo,” - Business Insider
“Apple’s stock suddenly dropped after that Face ID fail,” - Vice
However, Apple quickly made a statement to Yahoo clarifying exactly what happened and defending the functionality of its facial ID technology.
"Employees were handling the device for the stage demo ahead of time," said an Apple rep, "and didn't realize Face ID was trying to authenticate their face while holding the device. After failing a number of times, because they weren't Craig, the iPhone did what it was designed to do, which was to require his passcode." In other words, "Face ID worked as it was designed to."
Similar to the driverless Uber collision I discussed last week, this situation is the perfect example of how a media “crisis,” when approached proactively, can actually prove the reliability of your product. After this week’s live slip-up, I’m sure Apple can testify to the importance of clarifying misunderstandings and lack of information among the media and the public. Accidents happen, but if you take prompt steps to eliminate confusion, a campaign can still see amazing success! And let’s not forget about Apple’s massive loyal following, I’m sure they’ll be just fine.