Future iPhones May Combine Touch ID and Face ID

Apple might have ditched Touch ID for Face ID in its iPhone, but that could change at some point in the future.

Credit: Patently Apple

(Image credit: Patently Apple)

Apple has been awarded a patent that describes how the iPhone could use both Face ID and Touch ID on the iPhone, according to Patently Apple, which obtained a copy of it. The patent would give you the option of using Touch ID if Face ID didn't work. It would also give you the option of inputting a passcode.

Apple argues in the patent that face scanning can be "generally cumbersome" and might not work as well when you hold the handset a certain way. That creates some "false negative" results, the patent says, and can create frustration in using the device.

Apple's patent, however, provides an alternative. It suggests that Face ID would be the default way of verifying your identity through the platform. If it doesn't work, you'd have the option of using Touch ID, which would be included as one of the options when Face ID doesn't work. If you prefer inputting your passcode instead of Touch ID, that, too, would be an option for verifying your identity and getting into your handset.

The patent might be surprising in light of Apple largely turning its back on Touch ID.

MORE: It Looks Like Apple's Touch ID Could Make a Comeback

The company had been rumored for some time to be working on a virtual fingerprint sensor, but ultimately found that it couldn't make it work the right way. Apple then turned to Face ID, which it now says is not only more accurate, but it's also faster and more secure than Touch ID.

Still, there have been grumblings about Apple possibly considering bringing back Touch ID to the handset. And if that happens, Apple likely wouldn't turn its back on Face ID, either. That would then create a dual-biometric experience on the iPhone.

But before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let's be clear that Apple has never confirmed it's working on a device with Touch ID and Face ID. It's also worth noting that in the patent, the iPhone design is reminiscent of older versions with big bezels and a physical Touch ID button. It's unlikely Apple would step back in time on design to bring back Touch ID.