Apple has filed a number of patent applications for different ways of embedding a fingerprint reader into a display, and one of these has today been granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. Apple first applied for the patent in 2015.
In addition to allowing Apple to eliminate a separate Touch ID sensor, the patent also explains how embedding the reader into the screen can make for a more seamless experience …
Where a fingerprint sensor is integrated into an electronic device or host device, for example, as noted above, it may be desirable to more quickly perform authentication, particularly while performing another task or an application on the electronic device. In other words, in some instances it may be undesirable to have a user perform an authentication in a separate authentication step, for example switching between tasks to perform the authentication.
In other words, if a fingerprint is required to authenticate something like an App Store purchase or Apple Pay transaction, there would be no need for the user to be explicitly asked to authenticate – the device could simply read the fingerprint already on the touchscreen.
Apple is widely expected to switch to a near-bezel-free design for the iPhone 8 later this year. While there has been reports that the company may introduce facial recognition, it would seem unlikely that this would completely replace fingerprint authentication. A poll showed that the majority of 9to5Mac readers want fingerprints to be retained even if other forms of biometric technology are used.
One KGI report suggested that Apple may be planning a kind of halfway-house approach, with a new ‘function area‘ in the lower part of the display, allowing a fingerprint reader to be embedded in the screen but still limited to the bottom section of the iPhone.
You can catch up on all the iPhone 8 reports in our guide.
Via Patently Apple