Cutting off Your Thumb to Spite Your Face

The Kermudgeonly merits of Touch ID

Cutting off Your Thumb to Spite Your Face
A hand holding an iPhone (Photo credit: Kārlis DambrānsCC BY-SA 2.0)

I recently replaced an iPhone with Face ID with a functional phone. To wit: an iPhone with Touch ID.

You may imagine my joy, then, when I was given the opportunity to respond complain to Apple in a Marketing Survey about the reasons for my purchase:

“Face ID is convenient whilst at home or in the office; but those are two places I am least likely to use a phone, given that a computer with a keyboard is readily available. I cannot understate its dysfunctionality when making payments or wearing sunglasses. Face ID needs to be an additional option, not the One True Way. It’s that bad. Really.”

I am approximately as surprised that Apple launched a phone with Touch ID in 2022, as that they ever thought Face ID functional enough to release at all. That said, I did find it useful for unlocking the phone and signing in to apps while indoors; but I seldom use a phone for anything if a real computer is within reach.

Touch ID just works, even when it’s sunny and you’re walking—or riding a bicycle, scooter, or train. Face ID helpfully requires you to remove your shades before doing anything, making it awkward to perform the necessary movements, especially if one hand is otherwise occupied.

(Actually, Face ID can work with sunglasses—but not all sunglasses—and it requires changing a setting, potentially making the feature slightly less secure. Besides, why let facts detract from my argument here?)

With Touch ID, you can make a purchase using Apple Pay by holding your phone near the payment terminal, then touching the Home button with whatever digit* you have previously scanned into the phone.

With Face ID, you have to hold the phone near the terminal, look at the phone, and simultaneously double-click a button near the right top edge of the phone! Being right-handed, I use my phone almost exclusively with my left hand, so this was always a non-starter for me.

Now, some of you may be wondering: What about Android, you Kermudgeon?

Well, I have not used that horrid operating system (if that’s what it is) since early 2017. I grew weary of Google’s general tendency toward capricious design and end-of-life decisions, and I never cared for Android’s architecture, let alone its inconsistent implementation by phone manufacturers. To be fair, I believe the last version I ever used was KitKat, released in 2013. I also don’t have much use for whatever amazing features may or may not be offered on The Other Phone.

The rant has ended; go in peace.

*Unless you’re Brad Roberts, in which case technically they're known as the “phalanges.”

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