Some users finding Touch ID’s accuracy fades with time

Touch ID success

Over the past several weeks, I’ve noticed that the accuracy of the Touch ID feature on my iPhone 5s has been slowly getting worse. Where the sensor used to recognize my registered fingerprint(s) almost instantly, it now takes two or three tries.

And it looks like I’m not the only one with this issue. A number of users have come forward reporting similar accuracy problems, and of course there’s [several] lengthy Apple support threads full of folks complaining. So, is Touch ID going bad?

Here’s an observation from developer Dr. Dang (via Daring Fireball):

“I’ve been using Touch ID since I got an iPhone 5s in mid-October. Generally speaking, I like it, and I find it faster than the old swipe-and-passcode method, but I’ve felt compelled to reteach it my fingerprints twice already. I know this sounds impossible, but its recognition of my prints seems to decay with time.

I rescanned my fingers this weekend, and Touch ID has been amazingly fast and accurate since then. Just as it was when I first got the 5s, and just as it was a few weeks later when I rescanned my fingers for the first time. Just before each rescan, though, I was so frustrated with Touch ID I felt like throwing the phone across the room.”

Dang goes on to say that he doesn’t know enough about how Touch ID works to take a guess at what’s going on here, but he does note that if the software is updating its internal image of each print every time it’s scanned, decay is at least a possibility.

Touch ID hardware

To be honest, I had been attributing my Touch ID’s accuracy problems to mounting debris. I sometimes forget to wipe off my fingers before touch the Home button. But sure enough, after deleting and rescanning my fingerprints, it works flawlessly.

Durability and reliability have long been the achilles’ heel of fingerprint scanners, and believed to be factors in why they aren’t used in mobile phones anymore. Apple however, with its AuthenTec technology, was supposed to have overcome these issues.

Have you been having trouble with your Touch ID?