The long-defunct Touch ID continues to cling to fingertips, and we now learn that Apple has been exploring new ways to implement the technology in its flagship iPhones.
The biometric fingerprint scanning technology, which first appeared in an iPhone in 2013 but was replaced by Face ID facial recognition in the premium models in 2017, is of course still available on the iPhone SE. But it’s always felt like a setback: a reflection of the fact that the SE still has a Home button instead of the more modern all-screen design of Apple’s flagship phones.
However, according to respected Leak analyst Mark Gurman, writing in the latest edition of his Power On newsletter, Apple has been testing other implementations of Touch ID that would fit phones without a Home button. The company has explored the possibility of putting the scanner in the phone’s power button, an approach Apple has already used in the iPad Air, as well as the more expensive and technologically more challenging method of embedding it under the screen.
Unfortunately for fans of Touch ID, Gurman’s sources indicate that these tests are unlikely to result in anything concrete.
“At this point,” he writes, “I think Face ID is here to stay, and Touch ID won’t be returning to flagship iPhones — at least not anytime in the foreseeable future.”
We’ll just add that while Apple may be thinking along those lines—Touch ID versus Face ID, one or the other—we suspect many of its customers will like both. Fingerprint scanning and facial recognition each have their advantages; the latter revealed some of its limitations, for example, when phone users began wearing masks in public during the pandemic. Being able to unlock your iPhone through both methods would be useful, and such versatility has been available on Android phones for years.
Then again, Apple’s usual approach is to keep things simple, choose what they feel is the best way to use its products, and strongly encourage customers to do so. And it’s worth noting that Face ID hasn’t stood still; Apple recently enabled it to recognize masked faces, for example, and it can now work in both portrait and landscape orientations.