Touch ID is a core technology that supports a number of Apple services, including Apple Pay. If JPMorgan analyst Rod Hall is to be believed, the next iPhone might ditch Apple’s fingerprint reader in favor of facial recognition, CNBC reports. iPhone 8 is thought to sport a front-facing 3D scanner sensor that could replace Apple’s Touch ID-enabled Home button. Hall wrote in a research note this week that Touch ID could be phased out if Apple goes with a full-glass front for the next iPhone.
The analyst opines that biometric facial scanning should be more secure for Apple Pay and work better in “wet conditions” if the next iPhone is more water resistant, as rumored. Touch ID, as you know, does not work reliably with wet, oily or greasy fingers.
Loop Venture’s Gene Munster speculates that 3D sensors would give iPhone 8 augmented reality features. JPMorgan, on the other hand, expects these sensors to be used with unreleased software features such as clothing sizing, home improvement measurements and scanning for 3D printing.
Facial scanning would cost about $10 or $15 per iPhone unit, Hall estimated. Other analysts have predicted that iPhone 8 would be costly and likely priced above $1,000 due to a number of new technologies employed.
Apple’s Chief Financial Officer Luca Maestri said at the Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference last week that chips and sensors are among the most “strategic” and “important” Apple investments.
Google’s Android platform includes a security feature, called Trusted Face, that can be used to unlock a phone with facial scanning. Microsoft’s Surface Pro 4 ships with a Windows Hello feature that can do facial recognition, too, in addition to reading fingerprints.
Renowned Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities said about a month ago that iPhone 8 would supplant Touch ID with all-new optical fingerprint and facial recognition sensors (rather than iris recognition, as previously rumored).
Kuo cautioned that the technical challenges of facial recognition—the algorithms, hardware design and the build-out of a database for verification and authentication, which could be time consuming—could prompt the Cupertino company to use a combination of the two steps of bio-recognition before fully replacing Touch ID with facial recognition.
“If the technical challenges cannot be overcome, we believe a combination of fingerprint and facial recognition is another possible solution,” he said.