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Apple defends Face ID accuracy as iPhone X launch looms

It's responding to a Bloomberg report that says Apple eased accuracy standards to meet higher demand for the new flagship iPhone.

Face ID is the marquee new feature on the iPhone X. 

Apple is under the gun to get its flagship iPhone X out the door. 

The company wanted so badly to produce more iPhone X units that it told manufacturers to lower the accuracy of its facial recognition system, which it calls Face ID, to speed up production, according to Bloomberg, which cited anonymous sources. The story highlights the challenges Apple faces in getting the phone to the market, including supply shortages and issues with its 3D sensor for mapping faces. 

Apple disputed Bloomberg's charge of reduced accuracy for Face ID. 

"The quality and accuracy of Face ID haven't changed," Apple said in a statement. "It continues to be 1 in a million probability of a random person unlocking your iPhone with Face ID."

The report is the latest indication that the iPhone X will likely be in short supply when it goes on sale Nov. 3. A separate report earlier this week suggested that Apple may ship only 20 million iPhone X devices by the end of 2017, which is half the number it initially planned on, according to Nikkei Asian Review.

Now playing: Watch this: Apple explains Face ID on iPhone X

The company has already telegraphed that people should get to its stores early, but that may not be enough.

The iPhone X caps Apple's 2017 refresh of its phone lineup, which comes a decade after the first iPhone hit the market. Already available now are the iPhone 8 and iPhone 8 Plus, which don't offer all the high-end features of the X model.

Apple has loaded the iPhone X with a number of firsts for its phones, including Face ID and an OLED screen. It's also set the pricing bar high: The phone starts at $1,000.

Now playing: Watch this: Apple lowers the bar for Face ID, says report

Technical and production issues may be only part of the challenges Apple will have to confront with Face ID. The advent of the technology, a replacement for the fingerprint-reading Touch ID, has also raised privacy and security concerns. In September, Apple published a white paper answering many questions, such as how much of your face's image the company actually stores, how long it saves the image and what apps can use Face ID.

Apple's willingness to reduce the accuracy of Face ID could be a potential concern for consumers looking to embrace this new technology. Apple has said Face ID is more secure than its fingerprint sensor, and Bloomberg noted that the reduced accuracy of Face ID was still more secure than Touch ID. 

Face ID works by scanning a person's face, mapping it with 30,000 infrared dots to determine who it's looking at. Apple has said it used more than 1 billion pictures to train its facial recognition algorithm.

Preorders for the iPhone X begin on Friday, though Apple is offering certain people a head start.

Originally published Oct. 25 at 7:21 a.m. PT.
Update, 9:11 a.m. PT: Added Apple's statement as well as background information.

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