As the iPhone 8 reportedly enters production, there are more opportunities for components and information to leak out from the assembly line. The latest component to show (via SlashLeaks) appears to be the assembly that will be used to recognize users face, replacing the accepted Touch ID system on the iPhone 8.
While this may or may not be the exact component that is being used in the presumptively named flagship, the move from fingerprint scanning to facial recognition seems to be all but confirmed, but it won’t be definite until Tim Cook and his team take to the stage in the middle of September to reveal the iPhone 8 alongside two new iPhone 7S models.
What is curious is the reports of the performance of the system behind used for what many are calling Face ID. Noted Apple detective Ming-Chi Kuo has suggested that the iPhone’s ability to recognize a face and unlock the smartphone will be ‘practically instantaneous’. Rival systems (such as Windows Hello) take a moment to fire up and recognize the face in front of it. Apple needs to be faster than that. If the iPhone 8 is going to drop Touch ID in place of Face ID then the system is going to have to be just as fast, if not faster, than the fingerprint sensing technique.
There are only a few environmental conditions that can inhibit a fingerprint reader. The environment around your face is constantly changing, so Face ID is going to have to cope with a huge amount of obscure information. It’s going to need to be incredibly accurate because the slightest flaw or error is going to be noticed by every used. And Face ID is going to bring direct comparisons to Touch ID’s convenience and speed.
This is Apple’s gamble. Does it have a solution that improves the performance of Touch ID? Can that ‘practically instantaneous’ system handle the scanning, the recognition, the comparison, and the storage of a user’s facial biometric information that allows it to be used seamlessly and securely?
Apple is certainly working through use-case scenarios associated with losing Touch ID for Face ID. For example, lurking inside the latest iOS 11 beta code is the ability to force an iPhone to ask for the security lock code when it next turns on – effectively disabling both Touch ID and Face ID until the code is entered. Five taps on the home button will currently activate it, no doubt another trigger key or area in the touch screen will carry this function in the new device.
If Apple can have a seamless and instant facial recognition system that is secure and reliable than the iPhone 8 will have its killer feature. If it doesn’t work, or the promised ease of use is less than that offered by Touch ID, then the iPhone 8 s going to be a huge blot of Newton hand-recognition levels in Apple’s copy book.