You could be unlocking Apple's next iPhone with your face rather than a fingerprint.
Apple is testing a new security system for its 10th anniversary iPhone that uses a 3D face-scanning sensor to unlock the device, authenticate payments, and launch secure apps, Bloomberg reports.
The next iPhone is tipped to have a full-screen design and no bezel, which leaves no room on the front for its TouchID fingerprint sensor.
Apple could place TouchID on the back, as some Android devices have, to boost screen real estate, or place it under the display. But one notable analyst believes positioning it under the display is off the cards due to technical obstacles.
The 3D sensor is said to be fast and more secure than the existing fingerprint sensor. Bloomberg's sources said the 3D face scan can unlock the iPhone within a few hundred milliseconds and will work even if the sensor is not directly facing the user.
The system would work in tandem with an eye scanner. The 3D sensor also features depth perception to make it more difficult to use a 2D picture to bypass a lock.
Though Apple is working on augmented-reality features for the iPhone, it's not known whether this 3D sensor will also support them.
Bloomberg's report followed a note to investors by KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo who also reckons Apple will drop TouchID in the next iPhone and use 3D sensing for facial recognition.
Kuo notes Apple will release three new iPhone models later this year, including "an all-new design 5.2-inch or 5.8-inch, depending on the definition of screen size in use, OLED screen iPhone and two LCD models", including a 4.7-inch iPhone and a 5.5-inch iPhone in the same design as the iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus.
The OLED screen would offer clear images and more vivid color. These models are likely to be called iPhone 8, iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus.
Kuo believes the full-screen OLED iPhone will have a virtual Home button but won't support fingerprint recognition because of the "technical challenges" of under-display scanning. Street Insider published a portion of Kuo's note to investors containing his top 10 predictions.
"We predict the OLED model won't support fingerprint recognition, reasons being: (1) the full-screen design doesn't work with existing capacitive fingerprint recognition, and (2) the scan-through ability of the under-display fingerprint solution still has technical challenges, including: (i) requirement for a more complex panel pixel design; (ii) disappointing scan-through of OLED panel despite it being thinner than LCD panel; and (iii) weakened scan-through performance due to overlayered panel module.
"As the new OLED iPhone won't support under-display fingerprint recognition, we now do not expect production ramp-up will be delayed again (we previously projected the ramp-up would be postponed to late October or later)."
All three models will come with 64GB and 256GB storage and will have a Lightning port with an embedded USB-C power delivery integrated circuit to boost charging efficiency, according to Kuo. Additionally, the OLED model and 5.5-inch display iPhone would have 3GB RAM to support dual cameras, while the 4.7-inch model would have 2GB RAM for its single camera.
The analyst also has some ideas about the addition of wireless charging forth next iPhone. As reported by MacRumors, Kuo notes that the two LCD models will have glass bodies with metal frames to support Qi wireless charging from the Wireless Power Consortium. However, wireless charging functionality will only be available via an accessory sold separately.