Phil Schiller talks HomePod delay, Face ID privacy concerns, and more in new interview

Phil Schiller recently joined Dutch website Bright.nl for a sit down interview. The Apple executive touched on topics such as the iPhone X and Face ID, as well as augmented reality and smart home technology.

Regarding Face ID on the iPhone X, Schiller explained that the biggest leg-up Apple has on its competitors is the integration throughout iOS. He noted that Apple had a lot to figure out when it came time to replace the Home button, including Siri, Apple Pay, and Touch ID.Schiller believes, however, that Apple solved those problems with Face ID in a “very unique implementation.”

Furthermore, Schiller doesn’t have praise the for the facial recognition systems of other smartphone manufacturers. “They all stink,” he remarked during the interview:

“They don’t work in all the ways we need Face ID to work. We’re very aware that through the years the simple thing, this Home button, that started as the way you click to get to the Home screen, grew into doing so many things for us.

We added Touch ID, it took you to the multitasking screen, paged Siri, activated Apple Pay. We had to solve all of that. Other things that people have tried with face haven’t been anything like that. Face ID is a very unique implementation.”

Schiller was also sure to touch on privacy concerns that some have with Face ID and the access that developers have to the TrueDepth camera. He said that Apple “worked really hard” to maintain the trust it had built with users about how it handles personal information.

“No Face ID data goes to third parties,” Schiller said. “So what you enroll with Face ID, what you use to unlock your phone, that’s an encrypted algorithm that is created and encrypted by the Secure Enclave.” Apple has faced scrutiny for Face ID in the past, but has always been open about its practices.

The Apple executive made the distinction that the data third-party applications have access to is different from Face ID, and also added that any app that wants access to TrueDepth data goes through a stricter app review process:

“Developers must be clear in their user privacy policies that they are using face data and what they are doing with that. So that you know. You have a choice to make whether you want to do that or not. You are in control. And also, every application that want to use face data must go through a special level of app review.”

Regarding virtual reality and augmented reality, Schiller said that Apple has spent a lot of time studying the benefits and use cases of each. Ultimately, for VR, Schiller said that Apple has come to the conclusion that the first step is to create VR extension on macOS:

“VR we found to be a great solution for specific use cases and mostly right now for people who are creating VR content. It’s not a big end user market yet but the content creators are working on it. We think it’s important they will be able to do so on a Mac. Our first step is to create VR extension on macOS.”

Schiller is much more optimistic about augmented reality, though. He said that AR has “broad mainstream applications” with the potential to change “every major software category that exists.

“AR on the other hand is a technology that has incredible broad mainstream applications and can have the potential to change almost every major software category that exists. Because here you’re bringing digital information into the real world around us.”

Last but not least, Schiller offered a bit more color on Apple’s delay of the HomePod, saying that Apple needs a bit more time to “make sure it’s great.” As for the future, Schiller said HomePod plays a very important role in Apple’s vision of the smart home:

“Our vision is you can just walk into a room, the Homepod will be there and you can just say turn on the lights, close the curtains and whatever you like to do and it will do that. It has a very important role to the smart home in the future for Apple.”

The full interview is definitely worth a read, with Schiller going in-depth about HomePod, AirPods, and much more. Head to Bright’s website now to read the piece.


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