Apple iPhone 8 Allegedly Adopting 3D Facial Scanning To Replace Touch ID

Rumors and speculation are swirling over what features will make their way into the iPhone 8, the next flagship from Apple and the one that will represent a decade of iPhone design evolution. Much of the chatter has been focused on login security—following a note from KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo that Apple may ditch plans to integrate a Touch ID sensor beneath the display, word on the web is that Apple is working on a 3D face scanning feature that will allow you to unlock the iPhone 8 with your mug.

Citing people who are supposedly familiar with the iPhone 8's design, Bloomberg says Apple is currently testing the improved security system. Much the way Touch ID works now, users would be able to initiate a facial recognition scan to launch apps and authenticate payments, in addition to logging into the iPhone 8 itself. This would be powered by a new 3D sensor that is said to still be in development.

Touch ID
Apple may replace its Touch ID fingerprint scanner with 3D facial recognition in the iPhone 8

Apple's decision will be largely based on how well the 3D sensor works. Speed and accuracy are key metrics here—it needs to be responsive and reliably able to work as intended. In its current form, the 3D sensor is capable of scanning a user's face and unlocking an iPhone device within a few hundred milliseconds. It also works even when the handset is laying flat on a table, as opposed to holding the phone up close to a user's face.

This sort of thing is tricky to implement. There are more data points for a 3D scanner to capture and process versus a fingerprint scanner. The upshot there is that the additional data collection makes it a more security technology (potentially, anyway), but getting it to work right is a bigger technical challenge.

Whether or not the iPhone 8 includes a face scanning feature, it seems clear that biometric security is where smartphone development is headed. Apple is not alone in this regard. Samsung, for example, implemented iris scanners in the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ so that users can unlock their phones and authenticate payments with their eyes. It is easily tricked, however, so it will be interesting to see if how well Apple's 3D scanning technology works if it makes a debut with the iPhone 8.