When Apple made the choice to drop the home button and Touch ID
fingerprint scanning in favor of Face ID, Riccio said they went
“all in” with that functional decision. “We spent no time looking
at [putting] fingerprints on the back or through the glass or on
the side,” he said. Apple did it because they believed in the
quality of Face ID security and screen unlocking, with executives
describing it as good as second-generation Touch ID, but also
because there simply wasn’t time.
“As far as last-minute design changes? Actually, we didn’t have
time for it,” said Riccio, who seemed energized by the memory of
that intense development period. “Quite frankly, this program
was on such a fast track to be offered [and] enabled this year.
We had to lock [the design] very, very early. We actually locked
the design, to let you know, in November,” said Riccio before he
was cut off by Apple PR. Riccio appeared to realize he’d said
maybe too much, and then reaffirmed with a smile, “We had to
lock it early.”
Apple does not like talking about product development timelines. How long it takes them to design and ship a product is something they consider competitive information. But they could cut off the annual cycle of silly rumors about how they’re “scrambling” to make last-minute changes to the iPhone in July and August. The iPhone X was “locked” almost a year ago.