Companies scrabbling to create Apple’s abandoned in-screen Touch ID

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iPhone
Coming soon to an iPhone near you? Probably not.
Photo: Ed Hardy/Cult of Mac

How much influence does Apple have when it comes to which technologies get popular? Apparently enough that even those technologies Apple doesn’t use get a boost of credibility, courtesy of their association with the Cupertino tech giant.

At least, that’s our take-home message from a new report suggesting that a number of manufacturers are ramping up their development of in-display fingerprint sensors, the technology that Apple considered before settling on Face ID facial recognition instead for the iPhone X.

The companies said to be developing this technology include integrated circuit design companies Fingerprint Cards (FPC), Goodix, Silead and Synaptics, while Japan Display and Samsung Electronics have also continued with research and deployment.

There are no numbers given in the piece, but competition among these companies is reportedly “heating up” as they race to come up with a good solution to the problem.

Continuing to research an also-ran technology

Why would they want to do that? There are a couple of reasons. One is that it might offer a more affordable alternative to facial recognition for low-end Android rivals.

An in-display fingerprint sensor would be cheaper than the necessary depth-sensing technology for Face ID, still let them opt for an all-screen handset, avoid them having to compete with Apple for parts, and — should they twist the narrative enough — make it look like they were able to release a smartphone with technology Apple was unable to bring to market.

The second reason cited in the report is the idea that Apple might change its mind — and companies want to be ready in the event that it does. Digitimes writes that:

“Although Apple failed to incorporated under-display or in-display fingerprint solution into the iPhone X in 2017, the US smartphone vendors has continued to secure patents related to in-display fingerprint sensors for smartphone applications from the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO), indicating that Apple has not given up completely on the adoption of the in-display fingerprint sensing systems on smartphones.”

While it is true that Apple has continued to be granted patents for smartphone displays capable of detecting a fingerprint, these were seemingly filed during development of the iPhone X — not research projects that continued after. With Face ID being a big hit among customers, it’s difficult to imagine Apple ever going back to fingerprint scanning technology in future handsets.

Still, it’s one more reminder of just how much influence Apple excerpts in the tech world. When an order from the company can provide a massive boost to a manufacturer, it’s no wonder so many would be interested!

Would in-display fingerprint sensors be a smartphone selling point for you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.