When it comes to smartphones, Apple's iPhone is the device that's been setting the standards for almost a decade. But there are plenty of areas where Apple is lagging behind the competition.
Take, as an example, facial recognition. While Microsoft has Windows Hello and Google has Face Unlock, the best Apple is currently doing with facial recognition is using it to categorize photos.
But supply chain and analyst chatter seems to suggest that Apple may be finally making use of its acquisition of Israeli-based 3D sensor tech firm PrimeSense, a $350 million deal Apple made back in 2013.
Not only could this mean a facial recognition unlock system for the iPhone, joining Touch ID and the pincode as methods of securing the iPhone from prying eyes, but it could also allow for gesture and emotion recognition for any augmented reality (AR) solution that Apple is almost certainly working on.
Apple has been focusing heavily on camera technology over the past few iPhone upgrade iterations, and we could be seeing the beginnings of a move towards AR and 3D photography.
Another change that appears to be trickling down the supply chain according to analyst Timothy Arcuri of Cowen and Company is an OLED display for the 5.8-inch "Plus" version of the iPhone 8. But it seems that this will be no ordinary OLED display, but what is known as a "fixed flex" display, which opens up the possibility of a dual-edge display along the lines of the ill-fated Samsung Galaxy Note 7.
The display could also see the earpiece, FaceTime camera, and Touch ID sensor being embedded into the display as opposed to being separate devices that interact with the outside world through holes in the display.
This, according to Arcuri, could see Apple switching to a Synaptec optical fingerprint reader for the Touch ID sensor, as this is "currently the only workable solution" that can work through a display.
The only wrinkle is that Synaptec hasn't started sending samples of the new technology to device makers, which leaves the possibility that Apple has either entered into a secret deal with Synaptec, or that the company is working on a solution of its own.
In addition to display and camera improvements, it also seems likely that Apple is finally making the shift to wireless charging, a move which will require Apple to switch from aluminum to glass for the rear panel.
At the same time, it is claimed that Apple will ditch the aluminum alloy frame for one made from forged stainless steel. Forged stainless steel would be cheaper to manufacture than the CNC milling techniques currently used.
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