A newly-published Apple patent suggests that the company may not be finished with fingerprint scanning on the iPhone, with engineers considering how the Touch ID system could be used alongside facial recognition.
While the patent is almost entirely focused on Apple’s new Face ID 3D facial recognition system, it also takes a moment to illustrate how an iPhone device could prompt a given user to authenticate with a fingerprint scan in the event that Face ID authentication fails. In light of a patent published last summer detailing a Touch ID system that could be implemented under the display of an iPhone, the new patent suggests that Apple engineers may be exploring the idea of implementing in-display Touch ID together with Face ID in a future device.
Such a move would make some sense in terms of competitive maneuvering. Apple introduced Face ID in 2017’s iPhone X as a Touch ID replacement, and fully abandoned Touch ID in its 2018 iPhone models; meanwhile rival smartphone brands like Huawei and Honor responded by incorporating both facial recognition and in-display fingerprint scanning into new devices in 2018. Apple may feel compelled to follow suit in the next iteration of the iPhone.
That having been said, Apple patents never offer a reliable window into what the company is planning, and often just reflect Apple’s efforts to cover its IP bases with respect to R&D. But with this most recently-published patent having been filed with the European Patent Office after the launch of the iPhone X, in late January of 2018, it may offer some indication of what’s in store for 2019.
January 10, 2019 – by Alex Perala