Apple may be gearing up to take a 3D scan of your face to check your identity. The iPhone 8, heavily rumored to launch later this year, is set to bring a radical redesign that will extend the display to the top and bottom edges of the device, packing a 5.8-inch screen into a phone that’s a similar size to the current 4.7-inch iPhone 7. Previous reports suggested Apple would replace the home button with a virtual shortcut, coupled with a fingerprint scanner hidden under the screen, but a facial scanning system would make this less necessary.
The report from Bloomberg, published Monday, claims that the feature will be powered by a 3D sensor on the front of the device. The company is also testing an eye scanner to augment the system. The use of a 3D system means the iPhone will be protected from authentication using flat photos. Reviewers discovered that the iris scanner in Samsung’s Galaxy S8 suffered from this issue.
Not only would the technology allow Apple to remove the home button, it could also make the phone more secure. The scanner uses more information points than the current fingerprint scanner, meaning the phone is able to more accurately measure a person’s face. It’s also fast, authenticating at a speed of a few hundred milliseconds.
This, coupled with the other iPhone leaks, suggests this year’s model is shaping up to be one of the biggest redesigns in the company’s history. The iPhone 8 is expected to use an OLED screen to offer truly deep blacks, wireless charging, a bigger battery, a dual lens camera system, and a new glass enclosure that ditches the familiar aluminum back found on the iPhone 7.
Apple is also expected to launch two other phones alongside the iPhone 8, the iPhone 7S and the iPhone 7S Plus. Neither of these phones are expected to receive the 3D scanning capabilities.
It’s unclear at this stage whether the face scanner would work with augmented reality apps as well. ARKit, the new developer tool set coming in iOS 11, makes it easy for app makers to build virtual worlds over the camera feed. Snapchat filters and Pokémon Go already use the iPhone camera to power augmented reality, and while 3D information could improve the accuracy of the feature, it’s possible that the scanner is reserved solely for security purposes.