In iPhone 12, a Touch ID and Face ID marriage of convenience


A few days ago, sources out of Taiwan's supply chain leaked a meeting of Apple honchos with a local touchscreen manufacturer where the implementation of in-display fingerprint scanner for future iPhones was allegedly been discussed.

At the time, even though the report said that talks are in advanced stage to may be implement one as soon as next year's iPhones, we were a bit skeptical as to why would Apple slap two redundant biometric identifications, given the still-cumbersome nature of in-display scanners.

The impromptu answer was that it may use a more advanced screen-scanning technology for our fingertips than what we have now, and with Qualcomm's announcement of its 3D Sonic Max solution, the fog is clearing up.

Bloomberg sources just confirmed that Apple is indeed in advanced testing stages of in-display fingerprint solution, and it's made possible by precisely the new area levels that Qualcomm has reached with the latest generation of its ultrasonic scanners.

The 3D Sonic Max allows up to 17x more screen area to be used for reliable 3D-scanning of your fingerprints than, say, the current ultrasonic edition that is on the Galaxy S10 or Note 10 phones. What will this mean in practice? Well, that the whole bottom half of the display can be used for fingerprint recognition now, so you can actually unlock your phone without even looking or trying to twist your thumb in awkward positions. We can imagine how easy it will be to use on the eventual 5.4" iPhone 12 model, too.

Touch ID as Face ID redundancy


As to why would Apple keep two redundant biometric ID methods - well, Face ID serves other purposes as well (like, ahem, Memoji), and, besides, the notch where it resides, has already become a signature design staple for Apple's iPhones. That, and the fact that there is a growing backlash against the face recognition technology mission creep, where anybody can simply hold the phone to our faces and unlock it. 

Not that they couldn't grab your thumb and press it against the display, but that would constitute an assault on some higher level than simply looking at the phone. Whatever Apple's arguments about doubling the biometric identification ways on its future iPhones are, the return of Touch ID is only a matter of time, quip Bloomberg's sources, despite Apple's own musings on the advantages of Face ID that you see in the promo video above. 

So far, suppliers have proven that they can do it with the required ease of use and quality, but haven't demonstrated the ability to produce the all-screen finger scanning solution on a mass scale required for the millions of iPhone Apple churns out every year. Thus, we'll have to wait and see if the iPhone 12 will be able to be unlocked both with Face ID and with just tapping your thumb anywhere it can reach on the display, or will this combo slip to the 2021 iPhones. 

That's the Holy Grail of in-screen identification and, as usual, Apple waited for the ultrasonic technology to mature and become good and cheap enough to go into iPhones. That, and the fact that it finally settled all of its patent litigation with Qualcomm, so the road to using its 5G modems and 3D Sonic Max technology is now clear. If anything, Qualcomm's CEO said the other day that he regrets not patching things up with Apple sooner, as now it has to have dedicated teams working with it in order to manage the first 5G iPhones on time for the fall 2020 crop.

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18 Comments

1. GodKnowsAll unregistered

Nope Not Happening In My Life Time

8. sgodsell

Posts: 7624; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Well maybe not in an iPhone. But then again Apple has sucked up to Qualcomm again. Not to mention trying to settle with Qualcomm, and paying Qualcomm what they owed. Apple needed the best modems and 5G modems as well. Qualcomm is clearly the leader with that technology. Also Qualcomm has a lot of other Technologies as well, like their ultrasonic finger print scanner they have been working on since 2012. There second public released scanner is now listed as 1:1000000. That is using one finger. But since this new scanner allows a much larger scanning area, then it can allow multiple fingers to be scanned simultaneously. Therefore making it more secure again. In other words you could make it use your two thumbs, or two different fingers instead. Your choice. But in the end this adds to the overall security of this new scanner. Who cares if Apple uses it or not. It's there loss, and ultimately their customers loss if Apple passes up on this technology. Because Android smartphones will be using it.

21. audibot

Posts: 689; Member since: Jan 26, 2017

so its 3 years after samsung did this merge with added blink so eye face and touch, thanks apple just finding the old stuff that worked and kicking it back out as your new thing

2. Iodine

Posts: 1515; Member since: Jun 19, 2014

Abort the ghosippers ! Can not even enjoy an iPhone 11 because of them.

4. ShadowSnypa786

Posts: 655; Member since: Jan 06, 2017

Called it everyone knew this was happening eventually. Apple users were touting the face scanning as something amazing because you could use it for Apple Pay and that it was so secure. People were saying Face ID be here to stay :D Looks like they were wrong. Fingerprint scanners are the best way and will be like that for the future.

9. mackan84

Posts: 700; Member since: Feb 13, 2014

If a secure face scanner could be hidden beneath the screen and scan wider and further away you wouldn’t have to take off your gloves, care if your thumbs is messy in the kitchen and so forth. I would say a improved face scanner that could be hidden would be a better choice.

13. midan

Posts: 3241; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

What are you talking about? Face ID isn't going anywhere? And Yes face ID is amazing, many tasks it works without any effort from you. For example i have whatsapp locked with face ID. When i open my whatsapp i just open it. With fps scanner i would have to press the scanner everytime i want to use whatsapp. That's just one great example where face scan shines. It's not all about unlocking your phone, it's about tasks which needs your scan, that's where face scan shows it's best side.

15. sgodsell

Posts: 7624; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Having the finger print scanner built into and using up a large section of the display, will be just as easy. As a matter of fact you can be in bed, with scruffy hair, and girls don't have to worry about makeup, or wearing any pair of glasses. So a finger print scanner in the screen will actually be better and more reliable, especially since this ultrasonic scanner doesn't care if your fingers are wet, or even dirty. It's much better, and way more secure than the original 2D scanner that was TouchID.

16. midan

Posts: 3241; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

Makeup or glasses aren't problem for face ID. What you said really doesn't change anything, you still have to press the screen. Just like safari automaticly fills website logins and passwords etc. When you visit sites or apps which need one. With fps you have to press the scanner. It's small thing but more and more you do that you will understand how effortless face scan is. Face ID is your invisible lock.

18. sgodsell

Posts: 7624; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

Makeup, facial hair, and glasses can all make FaceID fail. Even hair that falls in your face can make it fail. Put on a pair of sunglasses, shave off the facial hair, thick foundation, or change your eyes with more or less makeup around the eyes, or eyebrows can definitely make Apple's FaceID fail. There is even YouTube videos on it. So stop with the lies midan. I know you love Apple so much that you feel like you always have to lie for Apple.

19. midan

Posts: 3241; Member since: Oct 09, 2017

You know face ID learns your changes all the time? If it fails you teach it. I have glasses. I grew a beard, have had zero problems.https://youtu.be/BWPrk9PUwQE Also this video proves that you can change your face a LOT and it still works So no i'm not lying. Same herehttps://youtu.be/e2-OXikgDqk you can't really have more makeup than this.

20. mackan84

Posts: 700; Member since: Feb 13, 2014

And for us who just want to read our notifications on a locked screen Face ID is a better choice.

7. TBomb

Posts: 1718; Member since: Dec 28, 2012

If they were to call it TouchID, it would be contradictory with their reason for moving past TouchID to begin with.

10. darkkjedii

Posts: 31780; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

FaceID is very good security. The facial recognition on my Note 10+, is pure trash. Once you unlock the Note, it’s heaven, but unlocking it is hell lol. The ultra sonic FPS, should be optical. Hopefully Apple keeps FaceID.

14. sgodsell

Posts: 7624; Member since: Mar 16, 2013

I find that if you scan your finger more than once on the Note 10's ultrasonic finger print scanner, then it works great. The optical finger scanners are only 2D, and can easily be faked. The ultrasonic scanners can't be.

17. darkkjedii

Posts: 31780; Member since: Feb 05, 2011

I like the speed of the optical ones. True, that they aren’t as secure.

11. Stormrider

Posts: 73; Member since: Aug 30, 2016

Doesn’t matter if they bring TouchID back, or if they keep FaceID. What matters is that they get rid of that disgusting notch, I want to upgrade from an iPhone 8 one day.

12. wickedwilly

Posts: 778; Member since: Sep 19, 2018

Two methods of biometrics were and still are better than one, if this happens it is yet another example of them following and catching up with the competition. If the huge notch is still the there though it will be disappointing, it takes up to much screen estate and is dammed ugly. Having it as a design stand-out is a co[ out, it is bad design pure and simple.

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