For a while now Apple has been rumoured to be bringing TouchID back to the iPhone but using under-screen technology. Many Android manufacturers have implemented this feature in the last several years albeit with mixed results. According to Mark Gurman’s latest newsletter, it seems the tech giant has abandoned plans to follow suit.
It’s important to note that Apple likes to use mature technologies that have a good track record of reliability. Or invent and own the primary technology as is the case with FaceID. The quality of under-display fingerprint scanners on Android devices varies quite dramatically. Even in the best-case scenario, the experience can be inconsistent.
TouchID still has many fans and some continue to prefer it to FaceID. Fingerprint scanners are less secure than FaceID by an order of 10x but do offer a level of convenience in a post-Covid world. For customers who also own an Apple Watch, Apple has already solved this with ‘unlock with Apple Watch. For folks that don’t, it’s understandable why they might miss the convenience of TouchID.
The pandemic won’t be with us forever and while face coverings are still in wide use in many countries, this alone isn’t enough of a reason to bring the technology back. Under screen fingerprint scanners aren’t great enough for Apple to bring to the iPhone. The company has clearly been testing and working on this. But they won’t ship it if the experience isn’t right.
Some might argue that they don’t care particularly about the scanner being placed under the screen. Instead, offer it embedded into the power button as is the case with the iPad Air. A good compromise perhaps. And there are advantages of dual biometrics. Even still Touch ID still has its flaws. It doesn’t work when wearing gloves in cold weather in much the same way that FaceID doesn’t work with a mask. TouchID is also prone to high levels of poor reads due to wet/greasy fingers.
Regardless of where you stand on TouchID, it’s clear that Apple is focused solely on FaceID for now. And if rumours are to be believed we’ll see a reduced notch this year with the iPhone 13. It isn’t hard to imagine that Apple’s eventual goal is for FaceID to be entirely under the display. Time will tell!
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