Over the last couple of years, Apple has been slowly phasing out the Touch ID fingerprint sensor on the iPhone and replacing it with Face ID. Touch ID might not be gone forever though, as Apple has been awarded a patent for an under-display Touch ID sensor.
Apple will continue working with both Face ID and Touch ID for biometric security readings. Apple’s latest patent (via PatentlyApple) shows Touch ID reading fingerprints using optical sensors from under a display, rather than using capacitive touch sensors. Currently, the MacBook 13, 15 and MacBook Air all use the capacitive implementation of Touch ID, while the newer 16-inch MacBook Pro is already using optical sensors instead.
The patent illustrates Touch ID being used on a smartphone touchscreen to grant access the device. The tech is layered with optical image sensors underneath the display layer and the dielectric cover layer. With that in mind, we could potentially see Touch ID return to the iPhone in 2020, as previous rumours have claimed.
This is the first proper sign that Apple is working on bringing Touch ID back to the iPhone outside of leakers hearing about these plans. We don’t know when Apple will implement this new Touch ID system but the technology is there and Apple now has ownership over it.
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KitGuru Says: While I have warmed up to Face ID since getting an iPhone XS, I would still prefer Touch ID to be reintegrated in the iPhone lineup. Hopefully this latest patent is a sign of what’s to come, whether it is in 2020 or the year after.