Apple picks up a new patent for an under-display Touch ID sensor

Multiple iPhones are stacked showing the Touch ID sensor.
Multiple iPhones are stacked showing the Touch ID sensor. (Image credit: iMore)

What you need to know

  • People seem to really like Touch ID.
  • Rumors have already pointed to its return, but under an iPhone's display.
  • Apple has now been awarded a new patent relating to exactly that.

Rumors of Apple's plan to put a Touch ID sensor under an iPhone's display have been and gone and some people are still very keen on the idea. A new patent might have just given them hope that Apple is on the same wavelength, after Patently Apple dug it up.

We've seen plenty of under-display fingerprint sensors in the Android world but they all suffer the same problem – the area they scan isn't huge, making it difficult to find the sweet spot during use. This Apple patent appears to fix that by making the sensor larger and easier to hit.

Apple points out that there's an extra benefit to making the sensor larger – users won't have to move their fingers far, if at all, to authenticate.

Where a fingerprint sensor is integrated into an electronic device or host device, for example, as noted above, it may be desirable to more quickly perform authentication, particularly while performing another task or an application on the electronic device. In other words, in some instances it may be undesirable to have a user perform an authentication in a separate authentication step, for example switching between tasks to perform the authentication.

The theory is obvious. You could tap a button to log into a service and have your fingerprint automatically scanned at the same time. There's no denying that sounds awesome.

Before anyone gets too excited, remember that this is nothing more than a patent. Patents don't always make products and Apple does like to patent anything and everything its engineers come up with.

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.