Apple's iPhone 8 will reportedly come with a new security feature that could not only make Touch ID obsolete, but blow away Android phones in terms of sheer speed.
The tech giant had been working on integrating a fingerprint sensor into the upcoming iPhone 8, but ultimately discovered that the feature didn't work as prescribed, a new report from the Korea Herald says. That report, which was earlier uncovered by BGR and cites unidentified sources, also says that Apple is doubling down on facial recognition on its new handset.
The report claims that Apple's facial-recognition feature will be exceedingly fast and be able to capture and respond to your face "in the millionths of a second." The feature will be used as the cornerstone of Apple's security features, including verifying your identity for access to the device's software and apps.
Apple has been rumored for months to be analyzing different ways to deliver security in the iPhone 8. According to several reports, Apple has decided to go with an iPhone design that features a screen nearly entirely covering the smartphone's face. That leaves no room for a physical home button and fingerprint sensor.
Apple was reportedly testing a virtual fingerprint sensor that could be baked into the iPhone 8's screen. But like Samsung, which had hoped to bundle a virtual sensor in the Galaxy S8 and Galaxy Note 8, it appears as though Apple couldn't get it to reliably work.
Left with no fingerprint sensor, Apple must now focus on facial recognition as another option. But that feature has historically been rather slow to acquire a person's identity and determine whether he or she should have access to the device. The Galaxy S8, for instance, can be slow to recognize your face, but its iris scanner is faster. Face scanning also typically relies upon users holding the phone at the right angle.
While speed is critical in getting a facial-recognition up and running, it's unclear how Apple's technology will account for variations. For instance, will a person who scans his or her face without glasses need to take glasses off just to get into the device? And how far or close will the iPhone 8 need to be from their face to get the feature to work properly?
Fingerprint sensors don't come with those inherent questions. As Apple's Touch ID showed, simply placing a thumb on the sensor was enough to get access to the device. But Touch ID can also be very unreliable and inconsistent, especially if you have any sweat or crumbs on your fingers.
Still, the biggest problem for Apple might be getting iPhone 8 units into customer hands. According to The Korea Herald, Apple is expected to ship only between 2 million and 4 million iPhone 8 units in the device's first quarter on store shelves. Heavy demand for the iPhone 8 could make the smartphone nearly impossible to find for quite some time.
Apple is expected to announce the iPhone 8 at a press event next month.
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Don Reisinger is CEO and founder of D2 Tech Agency. A communications strategist, consultant, and copywriter, Don has also written for many leading technology and business publications including CNET, Fortune Magazine, The New York Times, Forbes, Computerworld, Digital Trends, TechCrunch and Slashgear. He has also written for Tom's Guide for many years, contributing hundreds of articles on everything from phones to games to streaming and smart home.