iPhones are capturing infrared photos of users every few seconds. That is, if a recent conspiracy doing the rounds on TikTok is to be believed.
A conspiracy related to Apple‘s Face ID feature on iPhone has recently been doing the rounds on TikTok and is gaining a lot of attention. The concerns surround an iPhone not only monitoring users, but actually continually capturing photos as well. However, in spite of the misleading claims being made, what the iPhone and Apple’s facial recognition system is actually doing is far more mundane. Here’s what you need to know.
Conspiracies are nothing new online and in recent times, technology has become one of the more commonly used vehicles to promote a conspiracy theory. For example, 5G has become a very common conspiracy theme with some linking the wireless network to various health-related concerns, including the spread of COVID-19. While 5G continues to roll out in more locations, this latest conspiracy centers on a device that’s already present in many people’s pockets. The iPhone.
A recent TikTok video suggests that an iPhone takes an infrared photo of the user every five seconds. In the original Brie Thomason video, and using an infrared mode on a separate camera, an iPhone is seen taking these photos with various flashes occurring every few seconds. The video has since gone viral by racking up millions of views, hundreds of thousands of likes, and thousands of comments. In addition, other related videos, such as one by Conspiracy Seriously, have generated similar views, likes and comments.
What Apple’s Face ID Is Actually Doing
The iPhone is performing an action every few seconds, as shown in the video. However, this is related to a feature Apple calls Attention Aware. Essentially, Attention Aware is used by an iPhone to see if the user is actually looking at the device. Not only is it a security-focused feature, but a convenience one as well. For example, Attention Aware is used to ensure the iPhone’s display doesn’t turn off or go dim while the user is still looking at the phone. The flashes seen in the video do not represent the iPhone taking photos, but scanning for the user’s face. Furthermore, it is a feature that can be disabled at any time by toggling Attention Aware Features off in the Face ID & Passcode section of the settings menu. It might also be worth noting that Attention Aware is not available on all iPhone models, just like Face ID in general.
While the videos have gained a lot of attention and comments, many of them are actually pointing out the fact that it is simply an attention-based feature. In addition, highlighting how it is not any different to other awareness-related features, such as wake words used by Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant and Siri. Just like those voice assistants need to continually listen (in case the user asks a question or issues a command), an iPhone with Face ID enabled also needs to see when the user is looking at the phone.
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