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Apple Has 'Just Weeks' to Solve iPhone 8 Touch ID Dilemma

For all the rumors we've seen recently surrounding Apple's upcoming "iPhone 8", one of the most inconsistent remains the fate of its Touch ID fingerprint recognition technology in the redesigned flagship device, which is expected to launch in September.

In late May, supply chain sources suggested that Apple had overcome technical hurdles and that the OLED iPhone will have Touch ID integrated into the display. However, according to a report from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo earlier this month, Apple plans to replace Touch ID in the iPhone 8 with a facial recognition security system – a prediction echoed by both JP Morgan analyst Rod Hall and Bloomberg.


In the latest throw of the dice, a report from investment publication Barron's concludes that Apple is still struggling to put a fingerprint sensor under the glass of its next iPhone, and that the company has "just a couple of weeks" to solve the matter before its earnings estimates are at risk.

According to KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst Andy Hargreaves, who contributed to the report, Apple has until August to either place orders for chips to run a fingerprint sensor, or miss that window and not have a fingerprint ID at all, or delay more significantly the release of the iPhone.
We believe it would typically take 12 weeks from placement of fingerprint IC orders to full volume production of iPhones. Consequently, if Apple is able to solve its fingerprint problems and place orders for fingerprint ICs before August, it would likely be able to reach volume production in late October or early November. We believe this remains Apple's preferred path, and expect it would be acceptable to both consumers and investors. It is entirely unclear if Apple will be able to fix the problem in this time frame.
Hargreaves considers the possibility that Apple will replace Touch ID with facial recognition "increasingly likely" as time passes, but "far from ideal". Echoing the thoughts of many observers, Hargreaves goes on to highlight the challenges a supposed replacement facial recognition security system would need to overcome to meet the standard of existing Touch ID, particularly with regard to authenticating Apple Pay.
We believe Apple's facial recognition system solution should work from many angles and in low-light environments. However, it would not work without clear line of sight to the user's face. Even if this encompassed just 5% of login scenarios, it would mean that several times a day the new iPhone would perform worse at an elemental feature than older iPhones, which would risk pushback from consumers. Further, we do not believe facial recognition would be initially qualified as an acceptable verification method for Apple Pay. While Apple could achieve this over time, the likelihood for an initial lack of Apple Pay could adversely affect demand.
Hargreaves concludes that if Apple thinks facial recognition isn't sufficient by itself for login and authentication, then a delay in the retail availability of the OLED iPhone is "very unlikely, but possible". But while the analyst believes a delay up until mid-November would not have an impact on investor expectations for the cycle, anything beyond that timeframe could have negative repercussions.

Alleged leaked 'iPhone 8' glass back panel via Weibo

Meanwhile, alleged leaks continue to trickle out into the social media sphere, the most recent coming today via Chinese microblogging service Weibo claiming to show an "iPhone 8" production glass panel back that has no cutout for a Touch ID fingerprint sensor. Early rumors suggested Apple would relocate the sensor to the rear of the handset, similar to the Samsung Galaxy S8.

Apple is thought to have incorporated 3D sensing technology in the forward-facing camera of its "iPhone 8", which may perform a function in the purported facial scanning feature. Alongside the redesigned OLED iPhone, Apple is also expected to announce incremental updates to the iPhone 7 and 7 Plus.


Top Rated Comments

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18 months ago
I find this very very very hard to believe. A company of Apple's caliber probably had this figured out earlier in the year. I really don't believe they're "scrambling" to get Touch ID implemented.
Rating: 71 Votes
18 months ago
These stories are so dumb. (Not being critical of MacRumors-- keep printing rumors!!-- but of the underlying story). The hardware has been locked for months by now. This is a long-decided issue, whatever the decision was.
Rating: 65 Votes
18 months ago
Whatever Apple's solution is, they've already had it "solved" for many months now.
Rating: 33 Votes
18 months ago
Hmm, no they don't. Either put it on the front of the phone through the screen or push the phone release until October or November. No one cares to have Touch ID in the back for a September release.
Rating: 33 Votes
18 months ago
I really Hope Apple have succeeded in placing touch id under the display. i am not ready to get disappointed of no Touch ID.
Rating: 23 Votes
18 months ago
I’m sure Apple already figured this out. Probably pushing these “rumors” out for hype.
Rating: 18 Votes
18 months ago
Guys it's mid-July now. Around August they go through rehearsals for the keynote. I'd say by now promotional and marketing material is mostly filmed and in the editting proccess. Indicating that whatever is done is done.
Rating: 15 Votes
18 months ago
Ha. Ha. Is this "article" suppose to be the first installment of a soap opera or the trailer script for a geek action movie? OH no crisis! Apple only has weeks to save the iPhone!

C'mon. The iPhone 8 feature set was likely locked down month ago so that parts could be ordered and production line tooling could be arranged. This isn't a movie, it's real life. Apple can't just add in a complex hardware feature a few weeks before launch. Heck, companies beta test s/w for months before launch and it's still buggy for the first couple of updates after then.
Rating: 10 Votes
18 months ago
Just place TouchID in the Sleep/Wake Button for iPhone 8 and then make iPhone 8s with TouchID behind the display.
Rating: 9 Votes
18 months ago
This is all such hilarious BS. These "analysts" have no reliable sources.

I called this out as soon as it started. They're talking about TouchID at the superficial, idiot level, without understanding all of the consequences should Apple have decided to truly replace the fingerprint scanner. It would be a HUGE amount of effort, likely requiring renegotiating agreements with partners and totally redesigning the system's hardware architecture. This is not something which Apple is going to decide within "weeks". Bull-****.

If Apple was going to replace TouchID or put it on the back of the phone, they would need to square that with ApplePay (which is an extremely important service). There are regulations governing how much liability card issuers have for fraudulent transactions based on your authentication method. For example, card issuers are potentially liable for fraudulent charges if they issue you with a magnetic stripe card with signature authentication, which are both easily copied. If you use a modern chip-and-PIN card, however, they are not liable. If you use a contactless card with zero authentication, once again they become liable (which is why such payments are limited to small amounts and will still occasionally ask for your PIN to authenticate). Similar considerations apply to the iPhone's Secure Enclave and TouchID. How liable would a card issuer be if they permitted & encouraged you to authenticate payments using an easily-duped facial recognition system?

That's the kind of thing a second-rate "analyst" doesn't think of; but you can bet Apple didn't forget about it.

Not only that, but the TouchID sensor has extremely tight, hardware-level integration with the Secure Enclave inside the iPhone's CPU (for security). Any switch to a camera-based system would require the same level of security. That's an extremely significant redesign of the system architecture, not that any of these "analysts" would appreciate that.

Remember how crazy Apple are about security? The TouchID sensor is locked to your device at the factory, in an effort to protect against government agents installing fake sensors which allow their own prints. They fought the courts and the FBI to avoid creating a backdoor to access a terrorist's iPhone. They can't stop harping on about privacy and security.

These people (who apparently have zero understanding of Apple or the iOS platform) are claiming that Apple has no idea what they want the next iPhone to be like, and are going to make a snap decision about replacing one of the most critical components of the device. Apparently, Apple wants to remove the home-button so badly, they are willing to compromise all other parts of the device, risk their hard-won reputation for security and privacy, your bank accounts and private information (including health information).

Bull. ****.

Maybe Apple are replacing TouchID (anything is possible) - but if they are, they are replacing it with something that has been extensively tested and proven reliable, and it would be in a system hardware architecture that was designed for that sensor. They're not deciding anything "within weeks".
Rating: 9 Votes

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