I'm Lance Somoza, a professional IT Consultant with over 15 years of industry experience and an obsession for technology. This is my tech soapbox.

Until now, nobody has been able to agree where the Touch ID fingerprint sensor will be on the highly-anticipated ‘iPhone 8’. The popular opinions were either under the screen, on the back of the phone (ugh), or integrated with the power button.

It turns out these may all be wrong, as Ming-Chi Kuo and Mark Gurman reported today the iPhone 8 won’t have Touch ID at all.

Ming-Chi Kuo, KGI Securities, published an investor note saying:

As the OLED iPhone will not support fingerprint recognition, we think it may have to rely on facial recognition to ensure security. As such, we believe Apple (US) will be very demanding as regards the quality of 3D sensing, thereby increasing the difficulties in hardware production and software design.

iPhone 8 is rumored to have 3D depth-sensing cameras on its face to handle the said facial recognition.

Mark Gurman then confirmed the report:

The sensor’s speed and accuracy are focal points of the feature. It can scan a user’s face and unlock the iPhone within a few hundred milliseconds, the person said. It is designed to work even if the device is laying flat on a table, rather than just close up to the face. The feature is still being tested and may not appear with the new device. However, the intent is for it to replace the Touch ID fingerprint scanner, according to the person.

Thoughts

  • I will really miss Touch ID if it does go away. It’s so natural and easy.
  • That said, I might not miss it so much if the badass edge-to-edge screen is real. The mockups online look fantastic.
  • Facial recognition would allow for ambient security. Think about it—the screen turns on when you raise the phone and it’s instantly unlocked. No additional intervention required. Slightly different than Touch ID, which still required specific interaction to unlock.
  • If the facial recognition is real, I bet it’s built on top of ARKit, with some special Apple code. Hashed facial data can still be stored in the secure enclave, but that would probably mean the enclave and 3D cameras are hardware paired, making Apple the only one that could replace the camera (just like Touch ID sensors).
  • If it really works while the device is laying on a desk and at an angle, it sounds a lot like the document scanning feature built into the iOS 11 Notes app. The document scanning can capture paper documents at odd angles with lightning speed. This is indeed accomplished via ARKit.
  • If anyone can get facial recognition right, it’s Apple. Other implementations I’ve used suck. They’re slow and detrimental to gaining access to your content/data.
  • How will the phone unlock if there is no light? Maybe an infrared LED on top of the screen? Or maybe enough light is generated by the screen upon waking?

It seems like we’re in for an iPhone shakeup. Jury is still out on the name, though. Most people are calling this model the iPhone 8, while there are still most likely an iPhone 7S and 7S Plus in store. iPhone X would be pretty badass and fitting, considering the tenth anniversary.

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