- Apple is working to add facial recognition for unlocking phones, authenticating payments and launching secure mobile apps in future iterations of the iPhone, Bloomberg News reported, which cited unnamed sources. The technology is powered by a 3-D sensor that would scan a user's face within a few hundred milliseconds.
- The feature is still being tested, along with an eye-scanning tool, and may not appear in the iPhone 8, which is expected to roll out as early as September. Facial recognition would replace the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, which other reports say may be embedded in the touchscreen instead of being part of the home button.
- Facial recognition is designed to work close to the face or when a device is lying flat on a table. Because the technology examines more data points than with a fingerprint scan, it reportedly is more secure than Touch ID, which was introduced four years ago.
For marketers, 3-D face scanning holds the promise of removing some of the friction in engaging with apps that leverage personal data by speeding up the process and making it more secure. As mobile use grows, consumers are increasingly allowing their apps to access sensitive data, including banking, health and personal information. Enhancing security through 3-D face scanning could improve the overall app experience.
Biometric authentication methods are gaining interest as traditional passwords become less and less effective. Apple reports that 89% of iPhone users use Touch ID. If 3-D face scanning is easy to use, it is likely to see a strong adoption rate as well. A Gigya study released last year found that 52% of consumers prefer biometrics and other authentication methods over traditional usernames and passwords, and 80% of those who expressed an opinion said they think it's more secure. Given the interest — and need for — more secure authentication methods, experts say tech developers need to prepare for the day when the traditional password system is a thing of the past and move to adopt more secure password alternatives.
Apple isn't the first tech company to enlist biometric authentication for its devices. Google is already working on technology that would allow Android developers to replace passwords with biometrics, and Samsung included an iris scanner in its Galaxy S8 smartphone, but users found they could trick the sensor with a printed photo of a person’s eyes. Apple's sensor is said to have 3-D depth perception that makes the system less susceptible to being fooled by a 2-D picture of a person's face.