iPhone X: Set up an alternate appearance for Face ID

Face ID on the iPhone X lets you unlock your smartphone with your face, but it’s limited to just one person. That changes in iOS 12. Now you can add a second face so someone else can unlock your iPhone, too. Here’s how to set it up.

Face ID is a feature introduced in iOS 11 on the iPhone X that scans your face instead of your fingerprint, like Touch ID, to unlock your phone and authenticate purchases. Touch ID supports multiple fingerprints, but prior to iOS 12 Face ID supports just a single face.

iOS 12 lets you add a second face to Face ID but hides the feature under what Apple calls “Alternate Appearance.” 

First, a reminder:

The technology behind Face ID uses a device’s True Depth camera to identify markings on a face to unlock and authenticate. It’s also designed to work with Apple Pay and to open secured apps.

One key component of Face ID is its ability to use advanced machine learning to recognize changes in your appearance, such as hair growth, a new pair of glasses, etc.

Apple claims setting up an alternate appearance pushes this recognition to an all-new level and never says it’s intended to recognize someone else’s face. Instead, Apple notes: “In addition to continuously learning how you look, Face ID can recognize an alternative appearance.”

Setting up another face with Face ID on iPhone X:

Whatever your reason for using the tool, setup is easy and should look familiar. Here’s how to do it on iPhone X.

  1. First, be sure that you have already setup Face ID for yourself.
  2. Once this is done, go into the Settings app and select Face ID & Passcode.
  3. Type in your passcode.
  4. Tap Set Up an Alternate Appearance.
  5. Select Get Started.
  6. You’ll be asked to go through the quick procedure of adding your face as alternative appearance for Face ID. This requires moving your head slowly to complete a circle.
  7. To reset Face ID, you must go back into the Settings app under Face ID & Passcode, then tap Reset Face ID. Follow the directions above again.

Note: This is assuming that you have already set up your first Face ID face and passcode. If you haven’t set up Face ID yet, then you will see an option to “Set up Face ID”. You will want to select this first. If you haven’t set up a passcode yet, then you will be prompted to create a passcode when opening Face ID & Passcode.

We recommend creating a passcode. Since having a reliable second method to unlock your phone is useful, especially if the camera ever malfunctions. The setup is identical to how you do this the first time around.

The feature could be used in two ways:

Users can add another face when their appearance alters. As some early beta users have done, add the face of second person. That’s not the purpose of the feature, but it can be done. It’s similar to how Apple allowed users keep multiple fingerprints stored for Touch ID.

From now on, Face ID will recognize this new face you entered as the alternate appearance. It should make Face ID a much more consistent feature for users.

iPhone X

Wrap Up:

Firstly, setting up an alternate appearance for Face ID is very simple. Secondly, it will allow you to add another person to your Face ID account.


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Navaneetha Suresh

Navaneetha Suresh

Navaneetha, commonly known as "nav", loves to read, play badminton, play the keyboard and sing but when she's not doing any of those, she loves to write. What started as a high school hobby to write is now her ongoing passion.

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