Like it or not, and many definitely won’t, Apple has a tendency to set trends and even, sometimes, rewrite history. There has been no small amount of speculation and debate regarding Apple’s use of 3D face sensing technologies to replace its fingerprint-based system, but now that the iPhone X and its Face ID feature is real, it seems that Android smartphone makers will be following suit. That is the picture being painted by popular KGI Securities analyst Ming-chi Kuo, who, somewhat ironically, initially doubted reports of Apple using face recognition in the first place.
Kuo merely echoed the doubts of hundreds of iPhone users. How could Apple abandon a feature they had worked so hard to perfect, not to mention promote to financial institutions, businesses, and security firms? It was almost easier to believe that Apple simply saw Face ID as a stop gap measure while it also tries to chase the elusive under-display fingerprint sensor.
Some insiders and analysts, however, believe that Apple had been working on Face ID and its hardware far longer and that it is the way forward for the iPhones. Now Kuo himself thinks it is going to be the way forward for Android phones as well. He notes that inquiries on 3D sensing technologies have at least tripled ever since Apple unveiled its TrueDepth hardware.
There might be more to this than just following Apple’s lead, though. There is the factor that there are more companies and more solutions available for 3D sensors than there are for under-display fingerprint scanners. The latter also presupposes the use of OLED screens, of which very few manufacturers have access to. In other words, there’s a bigger chance of manufacturers getting their hands on TrueDepth-like hardware than they have implementing both under-display fingerprint scanners and OLED displays.
Then there’s also the matter of futureproofing. A fingerprint scanner, be it traditional or under-display, is just that and can’t be used for any other purpose. A 3D sensor, however, has the potential to be used for other applications, including augmented reality.
Kuo believes that the next two to three years will see a surge of Android smartphones with features advertised to be similar to the iPhone X’s Face ID. However, he also believes it will also take that long for any of them to achieve the same quality and accuracy as Apple’s TrueDepth camera. Perhaps by that time, the mobile world has moved on to the next big thing in biometric security.