'Touch ID' on iPhone 13 should be part of a unified 'Me ID'

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

Yes, everyone's favorite supply chain exfiltrator has just released a new report, not about this year's iPhone. Not even about next year's iPhone. But about the year after that's iPhone. iPhone 2021. Or, the iPhone some of us will be taking to go watch Thor: Love and Thunder at the end of Marvel Phase 4.

Us: It is beyond absurdly ridiculous to be getting iPhone 12 rumors when Apple hadn't even announced iPhone 11 yet. 🤷‍♂️

Kuo Ming-Chi: Hold my iPhone 13. 🍺

Now, Kuo's reports are usually based on the actual production information he manages to broker out of the plants in China, which is why it's often uncannily accurate.

This iPhone 13 rumor, though, seems less like that and more like supposition based on patents and component road maps. Which is fine, just different, and it's important to recognize the distinction when weighing the rumors.

So, what Kuo is rumoring this time is what Barclay's rumored last time — that Touch ID will come back to the iPhone. Kuo just thinks it won't be in the iPhone 12 in 2020 but the iPhone 13 in 2021.

Namely, fingerprint on display, or FOD, which is the fancy term, and specifically, the Qualcomm type which uses ultrasonic technology rather than optical.

Touch ID as we know it today, as it still ships on a variety of Apple devices from the iPhone 8 to iPad Air to MacBook Pro, uses a capacitive ring to trigger and optical reader. And it's — what's more solid than rock? — iron ore solid.

The first few generations of under-display — sorry, on display! — fingerprint readers have been more like…. I don't know… sponge solid? Smoke solid?

But that's rapidly changing, according to Kuo, via MacRumors:

In terms of technology, we predict that four critical technical issues of FOD will significantly improve in 12–18 months, including module thickness, sensing area, power consumption, and lamination yield rate. Therefore, we believe that Apple will launch the new iPhone equipped with both Face ID and FOD to enhance security and convenience thanks to the multi-biometrics.

Now, as anyone who's been following my work for a while knows, we've been talking about this right here for years.

Long term, it's best not to think about things like Face ID or Touch ID. That is, they won't be discreet systems but part of a largely biometric system. A Me ID, so to speak.

Touch ID, Face ID, Voice ID, Motion ID, all of these systems will just work together so that every contact, every glimpse, every word, every step, is taken as part of a threshold of trust, and when your device is certain it's you, it's just unlocked. No overt action required. And when it's not, it prompts you, and you authenticate using whatever is most convenient at the moment.

So, to me, this is really less about Kuo making iPhone 13 predictions and more about him joining us on this ride to the future of biometrics.

But let me know what you think, and how much you want Touch ID back, in the comments below.

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Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.

  • Never used Face ID, so it’s not a question of wanting Touch ID back or not for me. I think having as many forms of authentication (bio, geo, passcode) working in tandem would be make all devices infinitely more secure. And so far, Apple seems like the only company that takes authentication seriously and not just use it as a bullet point on a “features” list, turning it into a gimmick. Before Touch ID most smartphone fingerprint readers were a joke. Before Face ID, all facial recognition authentication methods were a joke as well. So whatever moves Apple makes next in this area, it’ll again set a new standard for device security... and more than likely it will be a form of a “Me ID”
  • It's hard to imagine how I used to use an iPhone without Touch/Face ID, just entering the passcode every time, I know a lot of people back then used to use their iPhone without a passcode, unthinkable these days. The only thing is that Apple have been a little late to the game in getting the Web Authentication API implemented in Safari, it's luckily coming in Safari 13, it basically allows you to use something like Touch/Face ID to register/sign into websites without having to use a password. The death of passwords is an exciting concept, it'll take a long while for all major websites to implement it but I'm looking forward to that day