Apple is reportedly testing in-screen Touch ID for 2021 iPhone, developing foldable iPhone prototypes, and AirTags may launch this year

Right now, Face ID is the go-to biometric security measure for Apple’s most expensive mobile products. That option replaced Touch ID in that regard. However, a lot of people out there want Touch ID to make a comeback for all products — and that may happen.

It has been rumored off-and-on ever since Apple introduced Face ID (and dropped Touch ID in the high-end devices) that the company was going to reintroduce the fingerprint reader in some way or another in the future. However, many people have been waiting since the introduction of the iPhone X and it hasn’t happened yet. But maybe 2021 will be the year.

That will indeed be the case for the 2021 iPhone lineup, with Bloomberg coming in with a report today detailing quite a few different things for Apple this year.

Let’s dig in, shall we?

The return of Touch ID (in the flagships)

Touch ID is still present in the iPhone lineup, technically speaking. The iPhone SE (2020) features the biometric security measure, for instance. However, that’s the last of the iPhones right now, with the models that Apple is currently selling.

According to the new report, Apple doesn’t want to give up on the all-screen design it’s offering now in the majority of its current iPhone models, but Touch ID can still make a comeback. Specifically, as an in-screen option. But what’s even more interesting is that Apple may not see this as a “major” change for the future flagship iPhones. Why? Because apparently engineers are billing this upgrade cycle as essentially an “S” year, with minor changes in the grand scheme of things:

Apple isn’t planning major changes for this year’s iPhone line given the enhancements made to the smartphone in 2020, including 5G and new designs, according to people familiar with the situation. Inside Apple, engineers consider the next iPhones another “S” version of the device, the nomenclature typically given to new iPhones with minor upgrades.

Still, that in-screen fingerprint reader –if it does happen– will be a highlight for sure:

Though overall changes will be minor, Apple is still testing a key upgrade for 2021: an in-screen fingerprint reader. This would add a new method for users to unlock their iPhone, going beyond a passcode and Face ID facial recognition. Apple started to move away from fingerprint sensors in 2017 with the launch of the iPhone X, but Touch ID has remained as a feature on Mac laptops and cheaper iPhones since then. Qualcomm Inc., which provides Apple with 5G modems, earlier this month announced a faster in-screen fingerprint sensor.

The last time this particular feature was rumored? Just recently, actually, in October of 2020.

AirTags may finally launch this year

It’s a small bit in the report, but AirTags are mentioned. According to Bloomberg, Apple is planning on launching the Tile-like tracking device sometime in 2021. However, it doesn’t say when, exactly. So that’s still up in the air. The report does say that Apple originally planned on launching the accessory alongside the iPhone 12 lineup late last year, but that didn’t pan out.

Foldable iPhone development continues

Is Apple going to launch a foldable iPhone? Who knows! But that doesn’t mean the company isn’t actively engaged with prototyping some ideas. It’s been rumored for a while that Apple’s thinking about jumping on the foldable smartphone game, but no clear timeline exists for when the company might actually launch the product.

According to Bloomberg, Apple has a prototype of at least one foldable iPhone. However, the report indicates Apple doesn’t have a working prototype, and, as it stands right now, a potential launch remains unclear at this point. It is said that the device would compete with other foldable handsets like Samsung’s Galaxy Z Fold — which could see many variants launch before Apple’s sees the light of day.

The last time we heard about a foldable iPhone was in December of last year, when it was reported that a pair of prototypes had cleared internal durability tests. In that case, Apple was reportedly working with two options: a folding screen or a device with two separate displays and a hinge that connects them. This report makes it sound like Apple is looking more at a foldable display.

Still, there’s no word on when this product might see the light of day, or if it ever will.