According to industry sources, Apple has seemingly commissioned Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC) to build Touch ID fingerprint sensors for a next-generation iPhone, dubbed by the press the iPhone 6.
The manufacture of the sensors should start in the second quarter of 2014 at TSMC’s twelve-inch fab, using the company’s 65-nanometer process, according to a report the Asian industry publication DigiTimes filed on Tuesday…
DigiTimes also reiterated that TSMC is gearing up to produce Apple-designed processors for iOS devices, matching up with annual rumors that have traditionally called for TSMC landing orders for Apple’s A-series of chips.
Meanwhile, TSMC will also begin to produce application processors for Apple soon using a 20nm process, said the sources, noting that the production of APs will be ramped up significantly starting the third quarter.
The report mentions that TSMC has thus far been producing Touch ID sensors for the iPhone 5s at its eight-inch fabs.
If the story is accurate, the rumored larger-screen iPhones won’t be released before the summer as DigiTimes previously reported. In other words, should TSMC really start production of the next-generation Touch IDs in the second quarter of 2014, then a Fall launch for the new iPhone(s) is very likely.
Since the October 2011 release of the iPhone 4s, Apple’s been releasing new iPhone models in the Fall, a break from its previous summer refresh pattern for the handset.
In other iPhone news, DigiTimes Research forecasts iPhone sales to increase significantly as global smartphone shipments are estimated to top 1.24 billion units in 2014, with Apple expected to have the greatest growth potential of all vendors.
According to DigiTimes Research:
Apple may see its shipments double in 2014 largely due to increased shipments to China and Japan as it will benefit from its cooperation with the largest telecom operators in the two countries.
They also estimated that the growth rate for Samsung “will be limited in 2014 as its sales in the US, China and Japan will be depressed by growing popularity of iPhones”.
This may have something to do with a massive iPhone 5s launch on China Mobile: according to The Wall Street Journal, Foxconn has shipped about 1.4 million iPhone 5s units to China Mobile ahead of the impending launch this coming Friday.
Back to Touch ID.
Jailbroken users can take advantage of a growing number of Touch ID related tweaks that expand on the fingerprint reader’s stock functionality. For example, tweaks exist to use Activator with Touch ID, secure apps, launch apps with specific fingers and save 1Password’s master password to the system keychain, to mention but a few.
Here’s the Touchy tweak in action.
Apple’s Touch ID implementation on the iPhone 5s is currently limited to device unlocking and approving iTunes purchases. Apple has not indicated whether it will allow its registered developers to access Touch ID functionality by way of dedicated APIs.
Just out of curiosity, are you using Touch ID much on your iPhone 5s these days? Or is it a bit like Siri, where usage patterns dropped once the novelty of conversing with your handset wore off?