Though it may be seen as a bit of a relic of the past for iPhones, Apple has just filed a new patent that may make a Touch ID comeback a real force to be reckoned with.
The patent suggests Apple may be preparing to make some big improvements around ultrasonic touch sensing and fingerprint imaging soon. As patents are somewhat a declaration of intent, it's possible this is just the start in a chain of events that could bring Touch ID back to Apple's most popular mobile devices following the launch of the iPhone 15.
This could place us a few years out from implementation but may give some insight into the future plans of the company.
The return of Touch ID on phones
According to a new patent filed by Apple, and subsequently spotted by Patently Apple, the company is working on improving the accuracy of ultrasonic touch sensing and fingerprint imaging.
This is predominantly intended for use in the top button of iPads but Apple says that its technology could work in future laptops, desktops, phones, wearables and more. This could mean a return of the old Touch ID sensor that iPhone had before getting rid of the home button.
It could be attached to the lock button and allow users an easy entry into the device, which would mean that accessories like iPhone cases for future handsets would need different cutouts for the power button to allow for users' fingers to touch the fingerprint scanner.
In the patent, Apple attributed touch inaccuracy to acoustic impedance between the device itself and the user. Acoustic Impedance, in this context, refers to the effect of ultrasonic waves on the surface of a device, causing interference and a less accurate reading. The new patent has found a very complicated workaround that essentially matches that impedance to counteract it. Presumably, Apple has not used the fingerprint imaging tech in all its devices as they spot issues that need to be addressed and doing so gives them incentive to design new models around it.
If Apple’s fix works, as filing a patent implies, we could see future devices with the tech in it.
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James is a staff writer and general Jack of all trades at iMore. With news, features, reviews, and guides under his belt, he has always liked Apple for its unique branding and distinctive style. Originally buying a Macbook for music and video production, he has since gone on to join the Apple ecosystem with as many devices as he can fit on his person.
With a degree in Law and Media and being a little too young to move onto the next step of his law career, James started writing from his bedroom about games, movies, tech, and anything else he could think of. Within months, this turned into a fully-fledged career as a freelance journalist. Before joining iMore, he was a staff writer at Gfinity and saw himself published at sites like TechRadar, NME, and Eurogamer.
As his extensive portfolio implies, James was predominantly a games journalist before joining iMore and brings with him a unique perspective on Apple itself. When not working, he is trying to catch up with the movies and albums of the year, as well as finally finishing the Yakuza series. If you like Midwest emo music or pretentious indie games that will make you cry, he’ll talk your ear off.