What’s up?

During the Upgrade podcast’s October Event Draft episode, Myke Hurley and Jason Snell discussed1 the likelihood of Face ID coming to the iPad (high) and what that means for people who use their iPads mostly in landscape mode. They were talking about landscape as a single orientation, but I see it as two.

People have been thinking about this since Face ID came out last year with the iPhone X. Face ID on the X—and, so far, on the X🅂— works only when you point the device toward your face in portrait orientation. While this is fine for phones, which are used overwhelmingly in portrait, it would be a disaster for iPad Pros, which are commonly used as pseudo-laptops in landscape orientation.2

So everyone breathed a sigh of relief last month when Steve Troughton-Smith found code to support landscape Face ID in an iOS beta. And earlier this month, Guilherme Rambo followed this up with a very confident post declaring that

The 2018 iPad Pro will include Face ID with the same image signal processor as the iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max and iPhone XR. Further, we can confirm that Face ID on the new iPad Pro will work in both portrait and landscape orientations, though it won’t work upside down.

So, problem solved, right? I hope so, but I have a nagging doubt. Not whether landscape will be supported, but whether both landscapes will be supported.

I have this Sena Vettra folio case for my current iPad Pro and would like to have something similar for my next one. Like the Apple Smart Cover, the Vettra can position the iPad at an upright angle, similar to a laptop screen,

Vettra in upright horizontal position

and at a lower angle

Vettra in low horizontal position

I use both of these. The upright angle feels better when I’m watching a movie or working at a desk. The low angle feels better when I’m working while sitting cross-legged on a bed or floor.3

As you can see from the position of the home button in those two images, there are two landscape orientations, and I use both of them a lot. I’m haunted by the last bit of the Guilherme Rambo quote: “though it won’t work upside down.” If Apple decides that there’s a right-side up and an upside down to landscape orientation—as there is to portrait—I’m screwed.

  1. In front of a live audience that included me. 

  2. Because I read a lot on my 9.7″ iPad Pro, I use it in portrait mode fairly often, possibly even as much as I use it in landscape. I think I’m unusual in this, and even I’d hate Face ID in portrait only. 

  3. Twenty-five or -six to four.