Apple might have gone for the fitment of Face ID feature on all iPhone devices off late though that does not mean it is the end of the road for the erstwhile Touch ID. Instead, the feature might be back in a new avatar in future iPhone versions, maybe with iPhone 13 itself, if a new patent granted to Apple gets transformed into reality.
As Mike Peterson of AppleInsider stated in his report, Apple has been granted two patents – ‘Through-Display Optical Transmission, Reception, or Sensing Through Micro-Optic Elements’ and ‘Optical-fingerprint detection system’ by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office that has fuelled expectations of Apple working on an under screen fingerprint sensor. The same again is expected to make its way in a future iPhone version soon.
However, getting the patent transformed into a usable technology is an entirely different challenge. With an under screen fingerprint scanner of the type mooted by Apple, the biggest impediment might be to get enough light to fall on the scanner sensor. With the sensor itself sitting beneath the display, the display itself along with other components might prevent this from happening.
However, as revealed in the patent documentation, Apple is expected to work around this by using components made of materials translucent to different light types. The strategically placed translucent apertures would divert light around the opaque elements and make them incident on the sensor.
The second patent, that is ‘Optical-fingerprint detection system’ however isn’t a hardware solution as such. Instead, it aims to solve a common issue, that of OLED displays with in-screen fingerprint scanner often failing to register fingerprints in low temperature conditions. As revealed in the patent docs, Apple aims to solve this using several software solutions it has mooted.
Apple currently offers the iPhone 11 series that comes with Face ID user authentication system. Interestingly, it also offers the iPhone SE 2020 that has seen the rebirth of the Home button-based Touch ID feature. Meanwhile, there also are rumors of Apple considering a side mounted fingerprint scanner on the iPhone SE Plus that is due out sometime soon.
All of this points to Touch ID continuing to be in relevance within Apple even though they have started to offer the supposedly more secure Face ID starting with iPhone X that was launched in November 2017.