For a year or so now, there have been rumors of Apple working to embed a Touch ID sensor beneath the iPhone’s display, allowing the removal of the Home button completely.
We now have the iPhone X which accomplishes the same thing with the creation of Face ID, and now Apple has squashed rumors of Touch ID being built into a display completely.
In an interview with TechCrunch‘s Matthew Panzarino, Apple’s hardware engineering chief Dan Riccio says that the company didn’t look into embedding Touch ID into a display (or on the side or rear of the device for that matter) because it was so focussed on bringing Face ID to market instead.
“I heard some rumor [that] we couldn’t get Touch ID to work through the glass so we had to remove that,” Riccio says, answering a question about whether there were late design changes. “When we hit early line of sight on getting Face ID to be [as] good as it was, we knew that if we could be successful we could enable the product that we wanted to go off and do and if that’s true it could be something that we could burn the bridges and be all in with. This is assuming it was a better solution. And that’s what we did. So we spent no time looking at fingerprints on the back or through the glass or on the side because if we did those things, which would be a last-minute change, they would be a distraction relative to enabling the more important thing that we were trying to achieve, which was Face ID done in a high-quality way.”
Ahead of the iPhone X announcement, there were rumors on both sides of the fence, with some suggesting that Apple was struggling to get the technology to embed Touch ID to a point where it was ready to ship. In fact, this belief was so strong that it was also suggested as a potential reason why the iPhone X would be delayed. We now know that this was not the case, although somewhat ironically it is the Face ID components that is expected to make the iPhone X difficult to get hold of when it goes on sale this coming Friday.
Early reviews suggest that the loss of Touch ID will not be a big one, with Face ID proving capable of replacing the authentication technology completely. Analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has already suggested that if Face ID is well received then Apple could ditch Touch ID from its iPhone lineup completely in 2018.
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