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Multi-user Face ID support in iOS 12 hints at the possibility of user profiles coming to iPad


Smartphones are very personal devices and we rarely do share our devices with anyone else except for family members. So when Apple launched its iPhone X, it allowed a user to store only one Face ID profile, because two is a crowd. However, with iOS 12, things are about to change.

Even though Apple’s senior vice president of software engineering, Craig Federighi on stage did not announce it as a highlighted feature on the mobile operating system for iPhone and iPad, 9to5mac now points out that iOS 12 lets iPhone X users set up an “Alternative Appearance” in Face ID settings.

The same was found in the recently rolled out Developer Beta meant only for developers.

“In addition to continuously learning how you look, Face ID can recognize an alternative appearance,” reads the Apple note that describes the feature.

While iPhones in the past relied on Touch ID that is a fingerprint-based authentication for payments and unlocking devices, all of that changed with the iPhone X, Apple’s tenth anniversary iPhone that shows the way forward when it comes to showcasing new technologies.

A biggest update with the iPhone X was the announcement of Face ID (and that display notch) but until now it only made sense for Apple to allow save one Face ID profile for authentication purposes.

While the ability to add a second face (in the iOS 12 developer beta) was initially thought to have been in place for testing out the system to recognize a different appearance (with a cap for example), the testers found that it worked with an entirely different face as well, allowing a second user to unlock the device.

According to the publication, the feature could be more to do with an upcoming iPad model that is expected to feature Face ID instead of Touch ID.

Since most iPads are used by multiple users (in a family, or in class) the “additional appearance” makes a lot of sense, because it will allows multiple users to securely unlock the device using Face ID.

With that said, we could also be looking at profiles coming to iPad (or even iPhones). User profiles have long existed on desktop operating systems that let multiple users log into the same device and get access to different apps and data. User profiles have also been available on Android smartphones for long and are available even today, letting more than one person use a single device in a secure manner. While the idea of having profiles on iPad is just a hunch, it makes plenty of sense provided iOS 12 will support more than just two Face ID profiles.