How to unlock and create Animojis on your iPhone X

Security team goes to a lot of effort to show iPhone X's Face ID isn't foolproof

“One of the most exciting features of the new iPhone X is the front-facing camera with TrueDepth technology. Gone are the days of using your fingerprint to unlock your phone — now you just look at the screen, and Face ID will recognize your face. But the array of sensors and cameras on the front of the new iPhone X have another trick: Animojis. Whether you just received your new phone or you’re still waiting for it, we explain how to unlock your iPhone X with Face ID, and how to send Animojis.

Unlocking the iPhone X with Face ID

The iPhone X is the first phone to replace Touch ID with Face ID. Now unlocking your phone is as simple as looking at your phone. The change is not just aesthetic, it’s much safer … supposedly. Apple said Face ID has a false positive ratio of 1,000,000:1 while Touch ID is 50,000:1.

According to security firm Bkav, however, researchers have been able to fool Face ID using a a mask. Is this something new Face ID users should be concerned about? A video produced by the security team shows the hack in action.

It’s obvious in the video the mask is not a simple construction. It has a silicone nose, specially crafted “skin,” and 3D-printed parts, so chances are the layman couldn’t easily don a paper mask and trick the system. While Bkav noted that it was “quite simple” for the firm to beat Apple’s security measure, we should keep in mind that these are experienced hackers, and if they’re trying to break into your iPhone, you probably have bigger issues to worry about.

Plus, Bkav spent around $150 in supplies (and that doesn’t include the 3D printer) in order to make their mask, so again, someone would really have to be dedicated to breaking into your iPhone in order to make this work. Indeed, Bkav itself notes that “exploitation is difficult for normal users,” so you probably don’t have to worry. Not for now, at least.

More salient of a concern may just be how finicky we’ve found Face ID to be at times. It’s also just a tad slower than Touch ID.

To unlock your iPhone X, you’ll first need to set up your Face ID profile. During your initial setup you will be prompted to set up Face ID, and this involves rotating your head in a circular motion to capture different angles of your face. You’ll have to do this twice. If you skipped this section, you can head to Settings > Face ID and Passcode > Set up Face ID.

Once Face ID is set up, you simply need to swipe up the lock screen with your eyes open, and your iPhone X will unlock — you’ll see a padlock icon unlocking. Your iPhone X will not unlock if you do not make eye contact with the phone.

Apple recommends never resetting your Face ID data, even if it’s not performing well for you. The system memorizes your features every time you use it, so resetting it would only set it back from recognizing your face. It may not work with drastic changes to your appearance, such as if you shave off a full beard.     

Sending an Animoji

Face ID

Animojis are animated emojis you can send in the Messages app. It takes advantage of the depth-sensing technology in the “notch” of the iPhone X, which is also used for Face ID. Anyone with an Android or iOS device can see these, as they are sent as a video file. You’ll need an iPhone X to send them, though.

To create an Animoji, open the Messages app. In a chat thread, you will see a monkey icon at the bottom of the screen next to the App Store icon. Select it, and select the emoji you want to impersonate. At the moment, there are 12 you can choose from, including the poop emoji. You can expand this selection screen by swiping it up. 

Once you’ve chosen an Animoji, look at the screen. You’ll notice the Animoji is mimicking your movements, just like motion capture used in films. When you are ready to record a message, press the red capture button on the right side. You’ll get 10 seconds to record a message with audio, but you can stop it earlier if you want to keep it short. Tap the send arrow, and that’s it!

Update: Security firm Bkav claims to have beaten Face ID, and has a video to prove it.