Apple patent points to in-display Touch ID and Face ID for future devices

iPhone with Touch ID
iPhone with Touch ID (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • Apple has been granted a patent that could lead to Touch ID and Face ID sensors being built into a screen.
  • Apple has long been rumored to want to bring Touch ID back to iPhone and in-screen Face ID could be huge for Macs.

Apple could be about to change the way its iPhones and iPads look while also bringing Face ID to the Mac. That's because the company has won a patent that relates to putting Face ID and Touch ID sensors into displays, rather than beside them.

Apple's current Touch ID and Face ID implementations rely on the required sensors living beside the screen, either below or above. However, the new patent — spied by Patently Apple, points to the possibility of moving the sensors to within the display, saving space and making for a better overall aesthetic.

Typically, an imaging sensor is positioned below the protective cover, adjacent to the display stack. As such, a conventional electronic device incorporating both a display stack and an imaging sensor typically requires a large-area protective cover that extends beyond the periphery of the display stack in order to reserve space to accommodate the imaging sensor. This conventional construction undesirably increases the apparent size of a bezel region circumscribing the display, while also undesirably increasing the size and volume of the housing of the electronic device.

The same patent also suggests that it could work for any kind of biometric sensor, not just one designed to check a fingerprint like Touch ID. That means that Face ID could work in a similar way, allowing Apple to put its sensors within a screen on, say, a MacBook Pro. All of this will not only Apple to ditch iPhone's notch, but also bring Face ID to other devices while also reducing their bezel size.

While this patent will come too late for iPhone 13, Apple is already rumored to be considering bringing Touch ID to the iPhone 14 lineup. That would likely mean putting the sensor into the screen, as would similar rumors suggesting the notch isn't long for this world as well. Getting rid of the notch would surely be the best iPhone upgrade in a while!

Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too. Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.