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iPhone X, Face ID, and Hidden Notification Content

An interesting tidbit from Steven Levy’s first impressions of the iPhone X: by default, the content of notifications on the Lock screen is hidden, and it’s only displayed once you look at the iPhone and thus authenticate yourself.

Alternatively, a good way to see when you’ve been recognized is to notice the generic messages on the lock screen saying “you have a notification” from Facebook, Gmail, or wherever. When you and your iPhone X make that turn-on connection, those flesh out with the actual content of the message. (This feature—withholding potentially private alerts until the phone was unlocked—had previously been available as an option but now is the default.)

What I find intriguing is the fact that – if I’m reading this right – the feature has been turned on by default for the iPhone X, as if to underline the role of Face ID. This option, in fact, isn’t new: on any existing device running iOS 11, you can go to Settings ⇾ Notifications ⇾ Show Previews and enable When Unlocked to achieve the same effect. On the Lock screen, the content of notifications (titles, preview messages, and media attachments) won’t be shown until you place your finger on the Touch ID sensor.

It seems like Apple sees Face ID as not only technically superior to Touch ID (more secure, powered by machine learning), but also as a better user experience for dealing with notifications – otherwise, why would they make it the default setting? I’m curious to play with this and see if I revert to the old option or not.