A report from Bloomberg, quoting anonymous sources familiar with the iPhone 8 development, says that Apple is working on advanced facial recognition software that could potentially replace the fingerprint sensors currently found in the iPhone.

Touch ID

The inclusion of Touch ID in the iPhone 8 has been one of the biggest will-they-won’t-they dramas of the rumor mill this year, with analysts still uncertain exactly how Apple will incorporate a fingerprint scanner into a phone with an edge-to-edge display.

While most people agree that the best solution would be to integrate a Touch ID sensor beneath the display so as to keep it on the front of the device, it’s unclear whether Apple has been able to achieve this to a high enough standard for inclusion this year. One alternative would be to put a Touch ID sensor on the back of the device, like the Samsung Galaxy S8, or perhaps even on the side, integrated into a larger power button.

Respected industry analyst Ming-Chi Kuo has suggested that Apple may ditch Touch ID entirely in favor of a new technology…

Facial recognition

Bloomberg’s report says that Apple is working on an “improved security system that allows users to log in, authenticate payments, and launch secure apps by scanning their face.” The iPhone 8 is rumored to include a front-facing depth-sensing camera, which would scan faces in 3D to avoid the potential problem of being duped by a photograph. The tech is supposedly lightning-fast, able to scan and recognize a person in mere milliseconds, even if the device is flat on a table and not facing the user directly.

It all sounds a little too good to be true, but if Apple succeeds with its 3D face-scanning experiments we could potentially see this feature used as a replacement for Touch ID. That would be a big call though, as even an amazing breakthrough face scanner would be hard-pressed to compete with the reliability of Apple’s current fingerprint scanners.

Of course, we won’t know for sure what the plans are until later this year – perhaps the face scanning is planned as an alternative biometric check and will supplement Touch ID rather than replace it. Maybe it won’t be ready until next year. But in a world where your face can authenticate Apple Pay, you’d better make sure your evil identical twin doesn’t get hold of your iPhone…