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New report sheds more light on the iPhone 8’s facial recognition feature

Updated 6 years ago
Published Jan 21st, 2017 7:00PM EST

With 2017 in full swing, we’re already starting to see a noticeable uptick in the number of iPhone 8 rumors coming through the pipeline. Just a few days ago, a report surfaced indicating that Apple’s next-gen iPhone may include an advanced form of facial recognition technology, capable of even discerning specific emotional states. Bolstering this report is a new research note from reputed analyst Ming Chi-Kuo who sheds even more light on Apple’s upcoming smartphone plans.

In a report obtained by MacRumors, Kuo writes that the iPhone 8’s new design has forced Apple engineers to come up with a new Touch ID solution “to complement its full-screen (zero bezel) form factor design and to enhance transactions security.” Indeed, it’s widely believed that Apple’s flagship iPhone 8 model will feature an edgeless display in the form of a wrap-around OLED display.

As to the the aforementioned rumor regarding facial recognition, Kuo relays that Apple may be contemplating replacing Touch ID with a facial recognition alternative sometime down the line.

Judging by the bio-recognition patents that Apple has applied for, we believe it is leaning toward facial recognition technology rather than iris recognition. However, we note that the technical challenges of facial recognition include: (1) algorithms; (2) hardware design; and (3) the build-out of a database for verification and authentication, which could be time consuming. As such, before Apple can fully replace the fingerprint system with facial recognition, a combination of the two steps of bio-recognition could be a valid solution for enhancing transactions security.

This is an interesting development but it seems far-fetched to imagine a scenario where Apple would do away with Touch ID completely. Even if the implementation works swimmingly for things like authorizing financial transactions, it’s inconceivable that a user would have to hold up an iPhone to his or her face in order to unlock it.

Regardless, Kuo’s note simply adds more evidence that Apple’s upcoming iPhone will in fact feature a forward-thinking edgeless design. If this ultimately pans out, it will be a welcome change from the current design which, while elegant, has largely remained unchanged since the iPhone 6 which first hit store shelves in 2014.

As for other features that might make their way into Apple’s next-gen iPhone, we’ve seen reports that the iPhone 8 will sport a stainless steel industrial design, will be even more dust and water-resistant and may even include advanced wireless charging functionality.

Yoni Heisler Contributor

Yoni Heisler has been writing about Apple and the tech industry at large for over 15 years. A life long Mac user and Apple expert, his writing has appeared in Edible Apple, Network World, MacLife, Macworld UK, and TUAW. When not analyzing the latest happenings with Apple, Yoni enjoys catching Improv shows in Chicago, playing soccer, and cultivating new TV show addictions.