Earlier this week, Apple was granted US Patent No. 10,824,837, which it applied for two years ago. The patent indicates that the company’s Touch ID fingerprint technology is returning to the iPhone in a new way.
Entitled “Shortwave Infrared Optical Imaging Through the Screen of an Electronic Device,” the patent describes a fingerprint sensor embedded below the screen of an electronic device. It was awarded to Apple on November 3, 2020.
“An optical imaging sensor is positioned at least partially behind a screen and is configured to emit short-wave infrared light at least partially through the screen to illuminate an object, such as a fingerprint, in contact with an outer surface of the screen, “reads the summary. “Reflections from the surface of the object are received and an image of the object can be assembled.”
A leak recently claimed that Apple would build such technology on iPhones starting in 2021, with the launch of the iPhone 13. Fingerprint sensors make more sense in times of pandemic, as the prevalence of face masks causes problems for the Face. ID. Apple had no idea what was to come in 2020 when it applied for this grant in 2018, but the timing could work well.
Apple removed the home button (which included a Touch ID fingerprint scanner) from the iPhone X in 2017, and has largely avoided it ever since; the only exception is the iPhone SE from 2020, which recycled the design of the iPhone 8.
Without the sensor, Touch ID also seemed doomed, as Apple insisted that facial recognition was more secure and faster. Face ID measures the face in three dimensions, and cannot be fooled by a photo, or by holding it over a sleeping face.
However, Touch ID has already made a surprising comeback this year. The iPad Air (2020), which largely replicates the iPad Pro design, offers access to Touch ID instead of Face ID; It does this by incorporating a fingerprint sensor into its power button instead of the home button.
However, for the next iPhone, despite all the advantages of Touch ID, it would feel like a step backwards to offer that instead of Face ID; Apple is more likely to offer both.
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This article originally appeared on Macwelt.