Stuart Breckenridge

The Case for Keeping Touch ID

As a result of Ming-Chi Kuo’s research note, there’s been quite a bit of interesting discussion about the iPhone 8 dropping Touch ID in favour of using facial recognition technology.

Benjamin Mayo, at 9to5Mac:

KGI’s Ming-Chi Kuo has sent out a new report with his top predictions for the 2017 iPhone lineup: two iterative updates to the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus, as well as the all-new OLED iPhone 8. The analyst believes that the iPhone 8 will feature the highest screen-to-body ratio of any phone on the market, thanks to the addition of the ‘notch’ at the top of the screen and a virtual home button.

However, KGI dampens spirits by stating that the virtual home button will not support fingerprint recognition, and that the OLED iPhone will not include a Touch ID sensor of any kind …

For several practical reasons, I don’t think Apple will remove Touch ID from any of the 2017 iPhones:

  1. How would you unlock your iPhone when you are not looking at it?
  2. In low-light scenarios, e.g. at the cinema or a bar, would your only option be to use a passcode?
  3. If you wear any headwear, e.g. a niqab, burka, balaclava, or perhaps even sunglasses, how would Face-to-Unlock work?

It doesn’t make sense to remove Touch ID and replace it with something that is sub-optimal by comparison. My guess — well, hope — is that if Face-to-Unlock is implemented, it will be done so in an additive fashion and not in a way where Touch ID is consigned to the scrap heap.