Apple faces the future: new iPhone X can read user's facial features
Apple's new flagship iPhone looks set to make facial recognition the new standard feature in the smartphone industry.
The iPhone X replaces the home button with facial recognition scanners for unlocking the phone and for paying in shops.
Some 30,000 facial points are measured by the new iPhone, which can't be fooled by beards, hats, tans or the natural ageing process, according to chief executive Tim Cook.
"Facial recognition is the future of how we will unlock our phones," said Apple executive Phil Schiller from the stage at Apple's new Steve Jobs Theatre at its headquarters campus near San Jose in California.
The technology is part of the company's new top iPhone, the screen of which covers the entire front of the device with no edges.
The phone's facial recognition abilities can also be used for new 'animoji', animated emoji that closely mimic a user's facial expressions and which can be used within iMessage.
The iPhone X also has advanced new cameras which are stabilised, shoot 4K video and have new portrait modes that enhance a person's facial lighting from either the selfie or rear cameras.
It will have wireless charging capability, with the company announcing a new wireless charging mat called AirPower.
However, the iPhone X will cost more than €1,000 when launched in Ireland as Apple tests its loyal customer base.
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Apple also launched a new iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, which are more conventional upgrades to the existing iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus. Using the same size screens, the iPhone 8 and 8 Plus models also have better cameras and faster processors. However, they retain the Touch ID home buttons of previous iPhone models.
The new iPhones are being launched as smartphone penetration has plateaued in Ireland and Europe. With aggressive new rivals such as Huawei on its tail, Apple needs to maintain its famously high sales margins, which reach almost 50pc of the overall phone's cost.
The company also announced a new Apple Watch Series 3, which will come with a cellular Sim card built in. The move means that the Watch can be used by runners or fitness enthusiasts to listen to streamed music or check messages and notifications without having their phone with them. The device is set to cost more than €400 in Ireland when it launches later this month, with Apple retaining the Apple Watch 2 and Apple Watch 1 at lower price points. However, there has been no deal struck with any Irish operator at launch, while EE in the UK will be a launch operator for the Apple Watch 3.
Apple chief executive Tim Cook told the audience that the Watch is now the best-selling watch globally, ahead of rivals such as Rolex.
Apple also unveiled the Apple TV 4K, which can play movies and television programmes in high dynamic range (HDR) as well as more than twice the resolution of existing 'full HD'. The company will automatically upgrade any HD content on customer Apple TVs to 4K (where applicable), while 4K content will cost the same as HD content to download.
The iPhone launch occurred on the 10th anniversary of the original iPhone released by late Apple co-founder Steve Jobs. Some 1.2 billion have been sold in that time.