As it stands right now, it’s safe to say that there isn’t a consensus regarding Touch ID, and what Apple plans on doing with the technology. The expectation for months now has been that Apple would put the fingerprint sensor underneath the display, so that it would still be on the front of the device — where it has been since Touch ID’s debut. But whether or not Apple sticks to that plan is a constant source of back-and-forth at this point.
Enter research analyst Andy Hargreaves out of Pacific Crest Securities. MacRumors got their hands on a research note from Hargreaves, where it details his expectations for what Apple may do with the oft-rumored iPhone 8’s OLED display, and where Touch ID may fit into the equation — or where it won’t at all.
According to Hargreaves, Apple is moving in a direction where Touch ID may be eliminated altogether if it cannot get the fingerprint sensor working underneath the display like it wants. However, before that happens, Apple may simply push back the launch of the iPhone 8, due to a delay in production, in order to try to get the feature to work:
“Likely options for Apple include a delay of production or elimination of fingerprint sensing on the OLED iPhone. We believe Apple continues to work on solving its optical fingerprint issues. If it’s able to solve the problems in the next month or so, it would likely place volume orders at that point. This would likely lead to a delay of the OLED iPhone launch, but we would not expect it to meaningfully affect volume for the cycle. If it’s not able to fix the problems in that time frame, Apple may be forced to eliminate fingerprint sensing from the OLED iPhone altogether.”
Hargreaves says that he does not believe Apple’s optical fingerprint module providers has received firm orders for production, which he thinks means Apple does not have the functionality it wants up to this point.
This is actually not the first time that an analyst has speculated Apple would be faced with some tough decisions moving forward, as far as that OLED display and Touch ID are concerned. It’s been reported just recently that Apple may be forced to delay production, or move Touch ID to the back of the iPhone 8 (where many Android-based devices have positioned the fingerprint sensor).
Another alternative, which has also been tossed out there at least once before, is that Apple’s 3D sensing for its front-facing camera is ready for prime time, and that its verification functionality could replace fingerprint reading altogether. Moreover, Hargreaves believes that Apple’s 3D sensing production is right on track, so if they do need to eliminate Touch ID in the iPhone 8 to reach its planned launch date, facial recognition could do just that:
“Suppliers suggest that the solution is both fast and highly reliable, even in low-light scenarios or from odd angles. If this proves accurate, reliance solely on 3D sensing for biometric login and verification could be a viable and innovative replacement for the highly popular fingerprint sensor.”
If there is a consensus here, it’s simply that Apple has options, even if one of those (and many analysts seem to be leaning to) is that Apple removes Touch ID altogether. Fingerprint security on smartphones has taken off quite a bit, especially recently, so it would certainly be an interesting move to see Apple remove it now.
However, with that being said, do you think Apple would miss its 10-year anniversary launch date for these hardware issues? Or do you think they’ll make the decision they need to make to secure that release date?
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