New report sheds light on Apple’s plans for iPhone facial recognition

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Why you should always back up your smartphone before telling off your boss

A new Apple patent describes a technology that uses face detection and recognition to activate certain features on devices including iPhones, iPads or Macs, AppleInsider reports. The feature would help Apple offer a more secure environment to iOS and OS X device users, as well as provide quick access to a personalized iPhone or Mac setup based on the face of the user.

The technology described by Apple would allow an iOS or OS X device to decide whether the user accessing the product is allowed to see certain features on the phone or computer by scanning the face and comparing it to data stored on the device. An iPhone could see whether a person is looking at a screen, and whether that person has the right to access calls, emails, or other features of the device. Similarly, when sitting in front of a Mac with such facial detection and recognition software, users will be able to access a certain set of functions and customized settings after logging in with their face.

Facial recognition features are already available on some devices including Android handsets and new consoles (both the Xbox One and the PlayStation 4), with users able to either unlock a phone or sign-in into a console by using their face.

A few days ago, Apple has also confirmed it has purchased PrimeSense, the original developer of the first Kinect sensor, although it’s not clear whether the purchase has anything to do with the features described in U.S. Patent No. 8,600,120.

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