You might remember the famous FaceApp from 2019 – the app that went viral on social media and took people by storm. Using this app, you could find out what your future self would look like. This trend spread like wildfire. Every other person, even celebrities, took to their social media and shared their present vs future selves.
If you used FaceApp, you might have wondered how the app was able to predict how you would look so many years into the future. Well, FaceApp is a face recognition app. This and many other face recognition apps employ special technology behind the scenes in order to make them work.
Hence, I bring you this article where I will begin by briefly explaining what face recognition apps are and how they work. Then, our focus will shift to the 15 best face recognition apps for Android and iOS, their functionality, strong aspects, and shortcomings. I will also provide you with a list of phones with facial recognition features. Towards the end, I will touch upon the aspect of how safe these apps are to trust with our sensitive data.
If this excites you, keep reading!
What is a Face Recognition App?
Let’s first understand what face recognition is and why is it used.
Face recognition software is a part of biometric technology which works on a specific Deep Learning algorithm. This algorithm identifies an individual’s facial features and compares it with the stored face print. It can either identify a face using a still image captured at a distance or up close, or using video frames. However, its effectiveness depends on the quality and accuracy of the software.
When it comes to the applications of this technology, many organisations, both government and private, use face recognition software for surveillance, security, data protection, attendance registry, marketing, and various other purposes.
How does face recognition work?
Now you must be wondering, “What data does facial recognition use to operate and provide near-accurate results?”
Well, face recognition technology works by identifying specific nodal points of a human face. Some face recognition software can identify as many as 80 nodal points of a face. Along with the help of technologies such as thermal imaging, 3D face mapping, skin surface textual analysis, etc., it determines facial features – from the length or width of the nose and the depth of the eye sockets to the shape of the cheekbones – to create a digital image of an individual’s face and store the data as a face print. This face print is used every time there is a need to compare data captured from faces in a particular image or video frame.
Think of it this way: You recognise most of your friends instantly, even if they are at a distance. What makes them recognisable? You look at the shape of their face, eyes, cheeks, lips, nose, etc. You identify them by their unique facial features.
Similarly, when a face recognition algorithm identifies a human face, it works on the following steps:
- A picture of your face is captured from an image or a video.
- The software reads the geometry of your face like you do when trying to recognise someone.
- The face reading acquired through a mathematical formula is compared to a database of stored images, exactly how your brain would try to identify your friend.
- Voila! The software has recognised the face print in its database.
Top Free Facial Recognition Software Applications
Today, there are many applications available on Google Play and Apple Store that use facial recognition software functioning on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Deep Learning technologies, perhaps even Augmented Reality (AR). Sometimes, these apps assist us with added security. Other times, apps like these are a source of entertainment.
Let’s go over 15 face recognition applications in detail.
Blippar is an Augmented Reality (AR) app designed by a London-based AR company. It was initially developed to recognise everyday objects. The purpose was to use this app for AR advertising for many brands. However, recently, the app has introduced the Public Figure Facial Recognition feature. It claims to be able to identify images of 370,000 celebrities to learn about them.
In 2016, the app also introduced another facial recognition feature, named “Halos.” It enables its users to create and customise their AR face profiles to display their mood, moment, or lookalike celebrity.
Blippar uses Deep Learning computer vision, a form of artificial technology. Using a smartphone camera, it recognises relevant images and real-world objects. Through Augmented Reality, it displays digitally-designed content as an overlay that you can enjoy and interact with. A popular example is Snapchat filters, which are based on AR technology. The displayed content is either from the AR experience built by the company itself or by others who use their API for branding purposes.
Blippar is available on both Android and iOS and is compatible with smartphones and tablets.
Face2Gene is a healthcare app developed by FDNA, an American artificial intelligence company based in Boston. The app uses the facial recognition feature to help doctors conduct comprehensive and precise genetic evaluations. If used effectively, this app has the potential to become the best face recognition app for Android and iOS users in the field of healthcare.
The app uses Deep Learning algorithms which are based on syndrome gestalts. These gestalts are built on syndrome-specific computation-based classifiers. The scanned photo of a patient is converted into de-identified facial descriptors which are then compared with syndrome gestalts to identify similarities with the top-matched syndromes having similar morphologies. AI, on the other hand, facilitates possible phenotypic traits and genes to assist in identifying the possible syndrome.
Face2Gene is available for free on both Android and iOS and also works on PC and Mac.
3. DigiPass for Apps
Developed by OneSpan, formerly known as VASCO Data Security International Inc. based in Chicago, Digipass features a two-factor authentication that uses fingerprint and facial recognition to secure devices from malware attacks.
This feature enables the user to scan a QR-code from the website that they intend to use. This is the first step of the two-factor authentication process. It is followed by the second step – a facial scan which users can do through their device’s camera. The scan is compared with the stored biometric template using machine learning algorithms in their app. The purpose is to secure online transactions, cash withdrawal requests, and other sensitive data. A proper and valid match completes the secure authentication process. And voila! You are logged in to make your transactions without worrying about data theft.
DigiPass for Apps is available as an optional feature, for both Android and iOS and Windows and Linux, which can be incorporated in any application to strengthen digital security. It is also considered as one of the best face recognition apps for iPhone and Android users.
Highly dedicated to the financial sector, FacePhi has come up with revolutionary products that provide their users with a secure mobile banking experience. Using this software, banks can verify their clients’ identities when they are using the bank’s online facilities.
This technology works with a face recognition software built using FacePhi’s robust algorithms. During the time of registration, the app asks the users for their personal information and extracts their facial features to configure their face patterns.
After registration, whenever a user logs in, the system first verifies their identity through the username, which could be an ID number, pin, or card, that they provided at the time of registration. And then, for further identification, the app asks for a facial scan, which is compared with the system’s database of registered users.
In other words, when a client logs in to their bank account on their mobile phone, they are required to take a selfie from their phone’s camera for user identification. Once they have been identified, they can proceed further and avail all the mobile banking services.
Developed by New Life AI, Log Me is an online photo directory that works on a free facial recognition software. It helps you connect with people you may know through identifying their faces and providing their details.
You have to upload a photo on the app, which will extract the face(s) from it (depending upon how many faces are there in the image) and will compare it to other photos stored in their database. Then, it will provide you with a list of profiles that are the best match for the detected faces in your photo. Hence, using face recognition to find someone, you can connect with them in no time. The app also enables you to upload images directly from your social media accounts.
It is available for download on both the Apple Store and Google Play.
Developed by Eureka Studios based in the UK, MojiPop provides customised avatars of its users with the help of free facial recognition software. It offers a wide range of fun animated stickers that users can select based on their moods and feelings from their interactive keyboard. The app claims to release new emojis every day.
The process is simple. Once you download the app, you take a selfie and create your personalised avatar. The app provides hundreds of different features, such as hairstyles, expressions, backgrounds, and moods that you can choose from to customise your avatar. It is also available in 58 languages, which makes it accessible to a diverse user base.
The app is available for free on both the App Store and Google Play for its iOS and Android users, respectively.
BioID, developed by a German company of the same name, is a multi-factor user authentication face recognition app. Instead of a password, the app uses biometrics to verify identities. It is considered as one of the best facial recognition software. It enables you to log in to various supported websites and apps with face identification.
The process of BioID is simple. When you first use the BioID app, you have to take a few pictures of your face from different angles, which will allow you to enrol yourself on the app. After enrolment, every time you use the app, you will have to take a selfie of yourself for verification.
So far, it claims to identify hackers using their patented Fake Defender feature. Hence, it makes it safe to use for other apps and websites. This face recognition app is available on both iOS and Android.
Like BioID, True Key is also based on biometric technology, which uses face recognition software or fingerprint to protect and manage your passwords. It encrypts your data using the AES-256 encryption method, along with multi-factor authentication, to protect your data from third-party interventions.
A product of McAfee Security, True Key is already considered as one of the best facial recognition software that allows you to unlock your apps in case you forget your passwords. Regardless of you being an Android user or iOS users, once logged in using this app, every app you use that requires a password will be perfectly synchronised for maximum security.
Popular amongst law enforcement, military, and other organisations, FaceFirst allows its users to identify people from afar using its face recognition feature. Once clicked and uploaded on the app, the picture is matched against a vast database of known individuals. It helps them establish their identity quickly.
The app provides you with timely security alerts, along with accurate information, mobile push notifications, emails, and text messages. Furthermore, it allows you to add people on a watchlist, regardless of internet connectivity. Lastly, all your data uploaded on the app will be protected from third-party access.
Considering all of these additional features, FaceFirst helps organisations to keep their communities safer. The good thing is that this app is already considered as the best facial recognition software by many of its users and is readily available for both iOS and Android users.
A Malaysian company came up with the face recognition app, Railer, which is an amazing alternative to traditional attendance registration. Through this app, educational and corporate organisations can manage the attendance of their students and employees, and keep a check on their attendance using face recognition.
Through this app, any organisation or institution can create a database of their employees or students through which they can monitor check-in and check-outs. And that’s not all. The app also offers analytics, push notifications with timely attendance reports to the HR/teachers, along with managing leaves such as sick, annual, emergency, public holidays, etc.
In short, it manages all the attendance-related tasks for you right on your phone, whether you are an Android or iOS user.
Luxand, a US-based hi-tech company, introduced a face recognition feature, FaceSDK (also known as Luxand Face Recognition). It is used for face identification, surveillance, biometric identification, and other purposes by many organisations worldwide.
The app allows you to detect any face once it has been memorised. You can add names to the uploaded images as well. In other words, it acts as a photo directory for you to remember those whom you often meet but whose names you are unable to remember. Along with detecting faces from still images and live video streams, it also recognises gender and/or age, which adds to the authenticity of the saved profile. Furthermore, you can also check yourself out in different avatars by using their fun features such as different hair colours, facial hair, piercings, etc., or create your very own 3D avatar.
The app is compatible with Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, and Linux.
Sensory, a software company based in California, developed a face recognition app which also works on biometric technology. AppLock allows apps to unlock using facial recognition features as well as voice recognition.
To use it, you first have to register yourself on the app. To successfully do that, you will have to choose from the three pre-selected voice unlock phrases or custom unlock voice phrases. Once you do that, the app will ask you to enrol your face while you speak your chosen passphrase. Last, it will ask you to sync the apps you would want to unlock using AppLock and select a security level for each app.
Generally, the app provides two levels of security:
- Convenience mode that requires either your face or your voice to unlock the apps
- TrulySecure mode that requires you to unlock your apps through both voice and face recognition
It claims to use advanced Deep Learning algorithms that ensure a high level of security. While it is not available for iOS users, it is considered as the best face recognition app for Android.
IObit Applock is another app exclusive to Android users only. It allows you to unlock your mobile applications using face recognition software and fingerprint authentication.
Using AI and Deep Learning, the app enables you to verify your face ID when accessing your devices, apps, and phone settings. Furthermore, the liveness detection feature of the app helps ensure that you are a real authorised person before unlocking your phone.
Bonus points for this one amazing feature: If someone tries to unlock your phone, IObit Applock will secretly take their photo and send it to you instantly through email!
Recently becoming the best face recognition app for iPhone is FaceApp, with 80 million active users. It was later launched for Android considering the increased popularity. It allows its users to compare their current selves with possibilities of how they may look in the future. This is made possible with the various available filters such as smile, hairstyle, genderswap, age, and skin tone lightning filter.
Due to its wide-spread popularity, many celebrities used the app, which raised genuine concerns related to data security and privacy. I will come back to that in the upcoming section.
Previously known as FaceUnlock, FaceVault is a face recognition app exclusive to iOS. It allows you to unlock your iOS devices. However, due to iOS not granting access requests for phone unlocking, the app has focused on providing added security to the phone gallery.
It uses the front camera to scan your face, regardless of you wearing any makeup or glasses. However, if, for any reason, it does not recognise your face; you will be directed towards another secondary unlocking method, such as a pattern or security code.
List of Phones with Facial Recognition Software
Apart from these face recognition applications that we have listed above, many mobile phone companies have come up with built-in face recognition software that enables its users to lock or unlock their phones using their faces. They have introduced this feature keeping security and data privacy in mind.
So, let’s take a look at which mobile phones have built-in face recognition tech.
- High Budget Phones
- Apple iPhone XS/XR/XS Max
- Samsung Galaxy S9/S9 Plus
- Samsung Galaxy A8 Plus
- Huawei Mate P20 Pro/P20 Lite
- Oppo Find X
- Samsung Galaxy Note 8/9
- Mid Budget Phones
- LG G7+ ThinQ
- Huawei Nova 3
- OnePlus 6T
- ASUS ZenFone 5Z
- Poco F1
- Vivo V11 Pro
- Low Budget Phones
- Xiaomi Redmi Note 5 Pro/Note 6 Pro
- Realme 2 Pro
- Vivo V9
- Huawei Honor 9N
- LG V30
- ASUS ZenFone Max Pro M1
Are Face Recognition Applications Safe to Use?
On one hand, these face recognition apps have strengthened the security of the data stored on our mobile phones. However, on the other hand, they have raised privacy concerns among people. With these apps getting viral amongst social media users, people have raised concerns about their data, mainly their facial features getting imprinted in the AI of these apps, which makes them vulnerable to identity theft. They have also raised concerns regarding these apps’ countries of origin.
For instance, FaceApp – the famous face recognition app that went viral earlier this year and which we have discussed above as well – has been designed by a Russian-based firm. It was speculated that whoever used that app, including celebrities, had their photos shared across the cloud to servers in the Russian President’s house. Nobody knows how true that is! But it brings up an important concern: When you allow these apps to access your photos and other parts on your phone, you don’t know who you are allowing to access your information.
According to the concerned people, these apps access your camera roll where you not only have pictures of yourself but of your friends and family, screenshots of bank account details, credit card numbers, and other information that can be used for various purposes.
None of the face recognition app developers have denied the fact that these apps may use your pictures for commercial use. So, if you have to use these apps, either for security purposes or for fun, make sure you do so with caution.
This brings us to the end of our discussion on face recognition software.
Face recognition technology is here to stay and is only going to move onwards and upwards. With so many apps launched regularly on both Google Play and Apple Store, only a few stand a chance to stay on top. This article that I wrote on face recognition apps will help you find the best apps that you can experiment with on your mobile phones. If you were looking for phones with facial recognition software, I hope that this article helped you find some within your budget.
If you use any of our recommended face recognition software or phones from the list, let us know about your experience in the comments below or reach out to us through email.