Leaker says Apple has given up on in-screen Touch ID for iPhones, and that's okay

As much as I loved Touch ID, it's obsolete now Face ID can work with masks

iPhone 13 notch view on pink phone
(Image credit: Apple)

Here in Scotland we've been having a bit of weather – nothing unusual, just hailstones the size of golf balls and wind throwing the odd cow past the window. It's made me realise that Touch ID is yesterday's technology: no matter how hard I try, I can't find Touch ID-compatible gloves that keep my fingers warm enough. If I were running the latest iOS beta that wouldn't be a problem, because Face ID now works with masks and effectively renders Touch ID obsolete.

According to leaker LeaksApplePro, Apple is thinking similar. "Apple is no longer working on under-display fingerprint sensors for the iPhone," it reports. The future is your face.

Why it's time for Touch ID to go

Touch ID was brilliant for a long time. Being able to unlock your iPhone simply by pressing the Home button? Fantastic. But it's not so fantastic any more, because Apple doesn't make those big round power buttons for iPhones or iPads any more. 

That means Touch ID is a pain in the neck on my iPad: the sensor is always in the wrong corner for comfort, and its tiny size means it often takes me multiple attempts before it recognises my finger. More often than not I'll tap in my six-digit passcode for speed, which is annoying given that Touch ID is supposed to make authentication faster.

As much as I loathe notches in displays, Face ID is so much faster and more convenient – but I didn't think Apple was ever going to find a way to make it work when we're masked, so I thought Touch ID was the better option in a pandemic world. 

But now that Face ID has cracked that particular problem, it's hard to see the need for Touch ID going forward: where Touch ID often fails to recognise my finger, Face ID has no such problems with my face. Once Face ID's mask compatibility comes out of beta, it's time to file Touch ID along with Intel Macs and iPod socks.

You might still wonder whether Apple couldn't have made in-screen fingerprint sensors work, just as so many Android phone makers have. Well, we don't know, but for whatever reason, Apple wasn't keen on them – and though this leak might not come with many details, it rings true. It'd be odd for Apple to decide to add a technology like this after sticking with Face ID only for so many years.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (havrmusic.com).