About a month ago, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, whose track record in publishing details about upcoming Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) products is quite good, predicted that Apple's upcoming iPhone with OLED display wouldn't include an in-display fingerprint sensor.
A new note from Kuo, by way of AppleInsider, reportedly said Apple has made the decision to cut Touch ID out of the new iPhone — something that, as AppleInsider points out, seems to be corroborated by a recent leak of future Apple product information from the firmware of Apple's upcoming HomePod smart speaker.
Image source: Apple.
At this point I think it's safe to say that Touch ID on the upcoming OLED iPhone isn't happening.
Touch ID replaced by Face ID
It's widely believed at this point that the upcoming OLED iPhone will rely on a technology that some are calling Face ID to replace the venerable Touch ID technology, which made its debut on the iPhone 5s smartphone launched in September 2013.
Noted Bloomberg tech reporter Mark Gurman recently said on social media that "Apple's pitch come September will be that Face ID is quicker, more secure, and more accurate than Touch ID."
"People inside Apple say it is," Gurman added in his social-media post.
This was probably the long-term plan
Back in January, Kuo predicted (by way of MacRumors), based on "the bio-recognition patents that Apple has applied for," that Apple's long-term goal was for Touch ID to "ultimately be replaced by a facial recognition system."
At the time, though, Kuo highlighted several potential technical challenges involved with shifting away from Touch ID to a facial-recognition technology.
"We note that the technical challenges of facial recognition include: (1) algorithms; (2) hardware design; and (3) the build-out of a database for verification and authentication, which could be time consuming," Kuo wrote back in January.
If Apple has gotten Face ID to work properly on the upcoming iPhone — that is, it fulfills the promise of being "quicker, more secure, and more accurate than Touch ID," as Gurman describes it — then it's quite clear that the first and second technical challenges that Kuo brought up have been tackled.
As far as "the build-out of a database for verification and authentication," I'm not entirely sure what Kuo means here. I don't think Apple would store facial data on a remote server in a "database."
Perhaps what Kuo means is that the setup process for Face ID takes a lot more time than the setup process for Touch ID. That makes sense based on how Gurman described this Face ID technology in an article published last month.
"In testing, the face unlock feature takes in more data points than a fingerprint scan," Gurman said.
If the system relies on more data points for the authentication process, then it'd surely need to take in more data points during the initial setup for the scan to deliver a safe, secure, and robust experience.
It would've been nicer had Apple been able to augment Touch ID with Face ID, but as long as Apple can get Face ID working as intended, Touch ID may not be missed at all.