WSJ: No Touch ID in D22

The Wall Street Journal, under the byline “Yoko Kubota in Tokyo, Tripp Mickle in San Francisco, and Takashi Mochizuki in Tokyo”:

The production delays earlier this summer stemmed in part from Apple’s decision to build new phones using organic light-emitting diode, or OLED, screens similar to those used by rival Samsung Electronics Co. At the same time, Apple decided to ditch the physical home button that contains fingerprint sensors for unlocking the device. Apple tried to embed the Touch ID function, or fingerprint scanner, in the new display, which proved difficult, the people familiar with the process said.

As deadlines approached, Apple eventually abandoned the fingerprint scanner, the people said, and users will unlock the phone using either an old-fashioned password or what is expected to be a new facial-recognition feature. Nonetheless, precious time was lost and production was put back by about a month, according to people familiar with the situation.

By this account, it sounds like Apple is rushing D22 to market, before it’s actually good enough to ship. But it really depends who the Journal’s sources are. With two of the bylined reporters in Tokyo, it seems very possible the sources are in the supply chain, not at Apple.

It all comes down to how good the facial recognition is. If it’s as fast, reliable, trustworthy, and convenient as Touch ID, then omitting Touch ID is a legitimate design choice. Forward progress on biometrics. If it’s worse than Touch ID in any meaningful way, it’s an inexcusable mistake.

Friday, 8 September 2017