Despite the proliferation of masks worldwide in response to the current pandemic, Apple is probably not bringing back Touch ID to the iPhone anytime soon. Instead, the company is testing an upgrade to Face ID that will make it work better with masks and fogged-up glasses, as reported by generally reliable leaker Jon Prosser.
The company is testing new Face ID hardware internally that matches the Face ID array on iPhone 13 prototypes for the express purpose of training it to work with masks and glasses. Prosser says that the test is currently being carried out on iPhone 12 hardware by way of a prototype case with the intent of gaining as much data as possible. The report also notes that testers are asked to wear these masks indoors and outdoors, and with various styles of glasses. Testers are also being asked to set up Face ID without the mask on first, as opposed to current workarounds where Face ID is set up with a mask on.
While the Face ID hardware array is being tested with the iPhone 13-style array, there is no word on whether the enhanced mask support would come with the iPhone 13 at launch or be enabled by way of a subsequent software update. With a feature that’s built for the times, Apple is likely to want it out as soon as possible, if the story is true. It would be easier to sell iPhone 13s with face mask-compatible Face ID in 2021 than in 2022, one would hope.
Apple earlier released an iOS update that would allow users to unlock their iPhones with Apple Watches if they were unable to verify their identity due to wearing face masks. This new Face ID feature, if released, would mitigate the security risk by using such a feature.
Apple’s iPhone 13 will reportedly come with other hardware changes including a slimmed-down notched, improved ultrawide cameras, smoother displays, and new colors. The company has yet to announce a launch date, but September 14 has been thrown around as an increasingly likely candidate. Alongside the new iPhone, an updated pair of AirPods and new iPads are expected. There’s also some talk of an Apple Watch Series 7 debuting with the iPhone 13.