One technology game I don’t like to play too much is prognosticating on Apple’s future product plans. Why not? Mostly because I’m pretty bad at it, but probably on a par with most technology pundits. iPhone SE? Didn’t see that one coming. Big screen iPhone? Saw it a mile away. iMac Pro? Didn’t see that one either, but I want one.
We’re nearly done with iPhone rumor season, perhaps a couple of months away from Apple’s announcement about iPhone 8– or whatever it will be called– and the release of iOS 11. The rage in rumors has been the new iPhone’s nearly edge-to-edge display. No Home button at the bottom, thin bezels on the sides, and a little cutout at the top for camera, sensors, speaker, et al.
Wait. If there’s no Home button and Apple figured out a way to embed it into the screen, then where is the Touch ID button?
Touch ID is a mainstay at Apple, having already taken over the entire iPhone line, all of the iPads, and even an incursion into the premium MacBook Pro models. Touch ID is loved by almost any Apple customer with fingerprints.
Where is Touch ID on iPhone 8?
Some say Apple will pull a Samsung and push it to the back– hopefully in a better place than Samsung chose. The back of the Galaxy S8. Right next to the camera. You’ll love those ultra clear photos with all the visible fingerprints. Samsung goes to lengths to hide the fingerprint sensor on the Galaxy S8, not even displaying its whereabouts on the home page.
Will Apple move the Touch ID fingerprint sensor to the back? If it does, and none of the most recent mockups or stolen iPhone 8 cases show it, then it would be a very un-Apple-like move, and the rumored 3D face recognition sensor needs to be even better at unlocking the iPhone and making it easy to pay.
Famed analyst Ming-Chi Kuo predicts:
We predict the OLED model won’t support fingerprint recognition, reasons being: the full-screen design doesn’t work with existing capacitive fingerprint recognition, and the scan-through ability of the under-display fingerprint solution still has technical challenges.
OK, so there won’t be a Touch ID on the front of iPhone 8 because, well, that’s difficult to do. And it won’t– my prediction– be on the back of iPhone 8 because, well, that’s too Samsung-like. Will Apple do away with Touch ID altogether? Does 3D facial recognition work so well that Touch ID is unnecessary?
Maybe. But there is another option. Every stolen case image and mockup of iPhone 8 stolen case images that I’ve seen indicates a much larger power button on the device’s right side.
How about putting the Touch ID fingerprint sensor in the iPhone 8’s power button?
Sony did it years ago in Xperia Z5 and Zperia Z5 Compact so we know such technology works. Mostly. There are issues, of course. By having the Home button do the scanning for Touch ID, Apple appeals to both right-handed and left-handed iPhone users. The power button is on the right side, which would seem to favor the thumb for right-handed users, but require a reach around for the index finger for lefties.
Regardless, Cupertino has a problem because options are limited. With no Touch ID at all, the 3D face recognition needs to be amazingly good because Touch ID has become such and is much loved (except for iPhone users who sweat a lot). With Touch ID centered on the middle back of iPhone 8, Apple risks being a me-too to Samsung, but at least has it where it could work acceptably, albeit with a little fumbling and trial and error.
Touch ID within the power button may be a good alternative.
Oh, one more thing that makes my idea seem plausible is a recent patent Apple was granted for a Touch ID sensor within the iPhone’s power button. Imagine that.