Synaptics Creating In-Display Fingerprint Sensors for ‘Top Five OEM’

Synaptics today announced that it has begun mass production of its Clear ID FS9500 optical in-display fingerprint sensors in partnership with a "top five" manufacturer, suggesting at least one major smartphone brand will sport in-display fingerprint sensing technology in the future.

Synaptics has been working on fingerprint sensors capable of reading a fingerprint through display glass for some time now, and its first product, the Clear ID-FS9100, was announced back in late 2016.


The updated Clear ID-FS9500 fingerprint sensors are designed specifically for smartphones with button-free bezel-free "infinity displays" much like the iPhone X or the Samsung Galaxy S8. Synaptics says its fingerprint sensors "magically activate" in the display when necessary, and the company believes its solution is "twice as fast as 3D facial recognition."


The Synaptics fingerprint sensor works well with wet, dry, and cold fingers, and because it's located under the display glass, the sensor is scratch proof and waterproof. In response to facial recognition, which can fail at certain angles, Synaptics points out that its fingerprint solution works when a device is "sitting on the table, at any angle, or while in a car mount."


Synaptics did not specify which smartphone manufacturer it is working with beyond naming a "top five" OEM, so the company's partner is a mystery. While Synaptics is a known Apple supplier that has provided Apple with display components in the past, it's likely Synaptics is referring to an Android manufacturer. Samsung, Oppo, Vivo, and Huawei are all possible partners.

Apple uses its own in-house solution for Touch ID, and it's not yet entirely clear at this point if Apple plans to continue using fingerprint recognition as a biometric authentication method in its devices. Touch ID has been replaced by Face ID in the iPhone X, and rumors suggest Face ID will be the dedicated biometric authentication method in the 2018 iPhones. We're also hearing rumors suggesting Face ID will come to other devices in 2018, like the iPad Pro.

In a September interview, Apple software engineering chief Craig Federighi said Face ID is the future of biometric authentication, and other Apple executives have made similar comments. For those who hold out hope that Apple will continue to use Touch ID in some capacity, however, Federighi did also say that there are certain situations where different biometric techniques or combinations of biometrics could make sense.

Ahead of the release of the iPhone X, rumors indicated Apple was planning to put Touch ID under the display of the iPhone X, with Face ID selected as the fallback option when it did not work out, but Apple executives have since said those rumors were false. Under-display Touch ID was not considered as Apple worked on developing Face ID, and it's not clear if Apple will continue to pursue Touch ID development with Face ID now available.


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Craig Federighi: Apple Focused on Single-User Face ID, Touch ID Was Never Intended for Multiple Users

Apple's current focus with Face ID is on single-user authentication, suggesting support for multiple faces won't be added in the near future, according to an alleged email from the company's software engineering chief Craig Federighi.


By comparison, Touch ID can store up to five fingerprints, and each of those fingerprints can belong to a different person. This allows a married couple, for example, to be able to securely authenticate a single iPhone.

In an email to a customer, however, Federighi appears to admit that Touch ID's multi-finger support has always been intended for a single iPhone owner to authenticate with a finger or thumb on both the left and right hand if desired.

Federighi added that Face ID could eventually authenticate multiple faces as the system evolves in the future, but his email makes it clear that Apple doesn't have any immediate plans to implement said functionality.

The user who shared this email on Reddit has a good reputation and history on the website, so we're inclined to believe it is authentic. However, we are still waiting to receive full headers of the email to verify its origins.

A screenshot of Craig Federighi's alleged email response to a customer

Apple says Face ID has a one in 1,000,000 chance of being spoofed, compared to one in 50,000 for Touch ID, although the probability of a false match is higher among identical twins, siblings who look alike, and children.

Vietnamese security firm Bkav has also been able to spoof Face ID twice with 3D printed masks, but the steps involved are quite complex and this isn't something the average user should be very concerned about.

In practical, real-world usage, Face ID has proved to be very secure and reliable. But, at least for now, it appears that iPhone X owners won't be able to extend this convenience to their trusted family members or friends.


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Galaxy S9 Will Likely Still Have Rear Fingerprint Scanner as Apple Rumored to Ditch Touch ID Entirely

Samsung has decided not to include a fingerprint scanner under the display of its next-generation Galaxy S9 and Galaxy S9+ smartphones due to continued technical difficulties, according to South Korea's The Investor.


Instead, the fingerprint scanner will likely remain positioned on the back of each device, just like the current Galaxy S8 and Galaxy S8+ models.

Fingerprint scanning is one of three biometric options for unlocking the Galaxy S8 alongside iris scanning and facial recognition. Samsung says all three solutions provide "defense-grade security" around the clock.

Shortly after the Galaxy S8 launched, however, videos surfaced showing that Samsung's facial recognition system could be fairly easily duped with a picture of someone. The iris scanner was also tricked with contact lenses.


In fine print on its website, Samsung admits that its facial recognition system is "less secure than pattern, PIN, or password." Facial recognition can't be used to authenticate access to the Galaxy S8's Secure Folder or Samsung Pay.

"It is important to reiterate that facial recognition, while convenient, can only be used for opening your Galaxy S8 and currently cannot be used to authenticate access to Samsung Pay or Secure Folder," the company told Ars Technica in March.

Apple was widely rumored to be attempting to integrate Touch ID under the display on the iPhone X, or even on the side or back of the device, but the company's hardware engineering chief Dan Riccio suggested it ditched any form of fingerprint scanning after hitting "early line of sight" with Face ID.

Samsung's facial recognition system is unquestionably less secure than Face ID, which uses significantly more advanced 3D facial recognition and has a 1 in 1,000,000 chance of being duped by a stranger, according to Apple.


Apple is so confident in Face ID that it is planning to abandon Touch ID in favor of the TrueDepth system on all of its new iPhone models released in 2018, according to well-connected KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo.

Apple says Face ID only has a possibility of being less reliable for identical twins, siblings who look alike, and children under 13 years of age, the latter because their distinct facial features may not have fully developed.

Apple's Face ID security paper explains how the TrueDepth camera projects and reads over 30,000 infrared dots to form a depth map of your face, along with a 2D infrared image. This data is used to create a sequence of 2D images and depth maps, which are digitally signed and sent to the Secure Enclave.

Face ID is designed to confirm user attention, ensuring a lower false match rate, and mitigation against both digital and physical spoofing.


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How to Discreetly Disable Touch ID and Face ID on an iPhone in iOS 11

There's an Emergency SOS feature built into iOS 11 that has hidden functionality - it automatically disables Touch ID and makes it so your passcode has to be entered to unlock your iPhone.

Because it essentially shuts down the biometrics on your device, you can't be compelled by a police officer or malicious person to unlock your iPhone with a fingerprint, nor can your fingerprint be used to get into your device should you be unconscious after an emergency.

Emergency SOS is enabled by default, and there's only one step to activate it: Press on the sleep/wake (power) button of your iPhone five times in rapid succession. On the iPhone X, instead of pressing the sleep/wake button five times, you'll hold the volume up and the side button on the device at the same time instead of pressing five times.


This gesture initiates a screen that gives you the option to power the iPhone off, make a call to emergency services, or access your Medical ID.

Though not expressly stated, once your iPhone is in this emergency state, Touch ID is disabled. You will, however, have to press the cancel button to get back to the Home screen, so it's not an entirely secretive process.

If you're using Emergency SOS to disable the lock screen and don't want to set the feature up to automatically call 911 when the sleep/wake button is pressed, make sure to disable Auto Call in the Settings app. Here's how:

  1. Open the Settings app.

  2. Scroll down to Emergency SOS.

  3. Disable Auto Call.

With Auto Call disabled, pressing sleep/wake will bring up the aforementioned screen with the option to slide to make the emergency call. With Auto Call enabled, emergency services are called automatically when the sleep/wake button is pressed five times, following a five second countdown timer.

It's best to leave Auto Call on if you want to be able to get in touch with emergency services immediately should you be in danger.

While this feature was likely built to keep your iPhone secure in a situation where you might be incapacitated, it can also prevent authority figures from forcing you to unlock your device.

This is notable because there have been legal rulings where a defendant has been compelled to provide a fingerprint, but not a passcode. Most people will never need to disable Touch ID, but it's worth knowing the option is there should there be a situation where it is necessary.

Related Roundup: iOS 11
Tags: Touch ID, Face ID

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Apple Store App Now Supports Touch ID For Authenticating Payments With Apple ID

Apple today updated its official Apple Store shopping app with the ability to use Touch ID to securely and conveniently pay for an order with a credit card tied to an Apple ID, as well as make changes to account settings.


The Apple Store app has long allowed shoppers to pay for purchases with the credit card associated with their Apple ID, but users needed to type their password for authentication. Now, users can simply use Touch ID.

To pay with a credit card associated with an Apple ID at checkout, tap on the white "buy with other payment options" button.

Apple said the new Apple Store app also makes its easier to see if an iPhone you want is available at an Apple Store near you.

The Apple Store app is free on the App Store [Direct Link] for iPhone, iPad, and Apple Watch.

Tag: Touch ID

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TSMC Sources Claim ‘iPhone 8’ Will Have Touch ID Integrated into Display

Apple has successfully finalized a solution to integrate Touch ID fingerprint recognition directly into the display of its upcoming "iPhone 8", according to a new report on Friday.

Chinese-language Economic Daily News (EDN) said it spoke to sources from Apple supplier Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), who apparently confirmed Apple's achievement during a technology convention held in Taipei on Thursday.

Among several design changes TSMC reportedly discussed at the TSMC 2017 NA Technology Symposium was the lack of a home button on the redesigned OLED iPhone, owing to Apple's use of "an optical fingerprint sensor to enable authentication directly on the screen".


In addition to the fingerprint recognition, the sources claimed the new iPhones will also come with "invisible infrared image sensors to enhance the functionality of the high-pixel camera" and to enable augmented reality functions.

If true, news of Apple's on-screen fingerprint recognition solution will come as a relief to watchers tracking the development of Apple's "tenth anniversary" edition iPhone. Reports that the company has been researching ways to integrate fingerprint sensors directly into screens go as far back as June 2015, but more recent sources have claimed Apple has struggled to find a solution that overcomes the production challenges involved.

Specifically, Apple was said to be facing low yield issues of its in-house fingerprint sensor solution, which may have been forcing it to consider three possible alternatives: remove Touch ID from the 5.8-inch iPhone entirely and rely on other forms of biometric authentication, place the sensor on the back of the device (similar to the one on the Samsung Galaxy S8), or delay production of the phone.

The security of existing face and iris recognition technology has already come into question, while the idea of a rear-mounted Touch ID fingerprint sensor has received a largely negative response from current iPhone users. Suggestions that Apple could announce the OLED iPhone in September alongside typical "S" cycle iPhones but delay its availability have also been met with skepticism.

Additionally, today's news also lines up with previous rumors claiming Apple has been aiming to finalize its fingerprint sensor specification in May all along, in time for mass production in late July, which would fall in line with the company's usual annual iPhone production timeframe.

The other design changes mentioned by sources at TSMC suggest additional biometric authentication such as iris/facial recognition could be used to augment Touch ID via a high pixel-density front-facing camera, which is expected to feature next-generation 3D-sensing capabilities powered by PrimeSense technology. The report also claims the screen ratio of the displays on the new iPhones will be adjusted to 18.5:9 instead of the previous 16:9.

The "iPhone 8" is thought to have a redesigned steel and glass chassis, an edge-to-edge OLED display, and could carry a "premium" price, compared to previous models. Apple is expected to debut the new iPhone in the fall alongside updated versions of its current 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch device lineup.

(Via DigiTimes.)

Related Roundup: iPhone 8 (2017)
Tags: TSMC, Touch ID

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Rumors Persist About Apple Placing Touch ID on Back of ‘iPhone 8’

Apple's rumored "iPhone 8" with an OLED display and wireless charging will continue to have Touch ID, but there is a "high chance" it will be on the back of the smartphone, says Hong Kong-based equity research firm CLSA.

iPhone 8 mockup with rear Touch ID sensor and vertical camera by iDropNews

An excerpt from a research note distributed this week by CLSA analysts Sebastian Hou and Brian Chen:
iPhone to ditch fingerprint sensor? We don’t think so.
Both Samsung and Apple tried to enable in-display fingerprint sensing on full-screen OLED phones in 2017, but their optical tech seems immature and the major iPhone 8 bottleneck. Some thus speculate the fingerprint sensor will be removed and replaced by 3D sensing. Our latest supply chain checks indicate the iPhone 8 will still have the sensor given security, user-friendliness, and a need for payments infrastructure, but there is a high chance it will be on the back like Samsung's Galaxy S8.
CLSA created a diagram showing Touch ID placed slightly below the Apple logo on the back of the iPhone.

Samsung included a fingerprint sensor on the back of the Galaxy S8, but some reviews found it to be awkwardly positioned next to the camera. Apple placing Touch ID lower down could make it easier to reach.


The diagram also shows a vertically-aligned dual-lens camera, a widely rumored iPhone 8 feature seen in previous renders. There also appear to be additional modules next to the front-facing camera, likely for rumored 3D sensing and facial recognition functionality. Other features shown are identical to the iPhone 7.

The diagram suggests the iPhone 8 will be 144mm tall and 71mm wide, making it slightly larger than an iPhone 7 but smaller than an iPhone 7 Plus as expected. With a depth of 7.69mm, the iPhone 8 would be just a hair thicker than the iPhone 5s, if the dimensions CLSA lists prove to be accurate.

Touch ID on the back of the iPhone 8 appears to be a fallback solution given Apple's struggles to integrate the fingerprint sensor underneath the smartphone's display effectively enough for mass production. Leaked renders suggest Apple has explored a rear Touch ID sensor on at least one iPhone 8 prototype.

Other manufacturing challenges may push iPhone 8 production behind schedule by at least one or two months, possibly delaying shipments until October or November. Nevertheless, most analysts still think Apple will announce the iPhone 8 in September alongside the so-called iPhone 7s and iPhone 7s Plus.

While some Apple fans will quip that "this same rumor surfaces every year," oft-reliable analyst Ming-Chi Kuo of KGI Securities implied this year's shortage could be much more "severe" than in previous years.

"iPhone 8" is a tentative name for Apple's significantly redesigned, high-end smartphone rumored to launch in 2017. It has also been referred to as the iPhone X, iPhone Pro, and iPhone Edition.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8 (2017)
Tags: CLSA, Touch ID

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MasterCard Reveals Credit Card With Built-In Fingerprint Sensor

MasterCard today unveiled a biometric chip-and-pin credit card featuring a built-in fingerprint sensor that takes cues from mobile payment systems such as Apple Pay.

The card can be used to make purchases like any other, except rather than keying in a PIN number, card holders can choose to place their finger over the square sensor to approve the transaction.

Alternatively, users can take a two-tier authentication approach and use both their PIN and fingerprint to approve the purchase. However, users of the card won't have the convenience or security that comes with registering their print with their smartphone.


With Apple Pay, fingerprint data is encrypted and protected with a key available only to the Secure Enclave on the user's iPhone. The Secure Enclave is walled off from the rest of the hardware and the OS, meaning iOS and other apps never have access to user fingerprint data, it's never stored on Apple servers, and never backed up to iCloud or anywhere else.

The biometric credit card has no such protections. Instead, the user must register their print with the bank or financial institution that issued the card, and while the fingerprint is encrypted on the card itself, it's still unclear what security and privacy measures are in place to deal with the registration process.


Despite those concerns, Mastercard's chief of safety and security, Ajay Bhalla, said that the fingerprint technology was "not something that can be taken or replicated", and that the biometric card would help "to deliver additional convenience and security".

MasterCard plans to roll out the cards in Europe and the Asia Pacific region soon, following successful tests in South Africa through Barclays subsidiary Absa and supermarket Pick n Pay.


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iPhone 8 Without Touch ID Doubtfully Called One ‘Likely Option’ if Apple Can’t Place It Under Display

Apple may be forced to eliminate Touch ID from the tentatively named "iPhone 8" altogether if it cannot resolve issues with integrating the fingerprint sensor underneath the smartphone's display within the next month or so, according to Andy Hargreaves, equity research analyst at Pacific Crest Securities.

"iPhone X" concept by designer Gabor Balogh

Hargreaves isn't the first analyst to think Apple could do away with Touch ID, but the move seems unlikely even as a last-ditch scenario. Touch ID is at the core of Apple Pay, and it appears much more likely that 3D facial or iris recognition would complement rather than replace fingerprint sensing.

A more likely option fielded by Hargreaves is that Apple could delay "iPhone 8" production until its under-display fingerprint sensor solution is ready.

An excerpt from his research note obtained by MacRumors:
Likely options for Apple include a delay of production or elimination of fingerprint sensing on the OLED iPhone. We believe Apple continues to work on solving its optical fingerprint issues. If it's able to solve the problems in the next month or so, it would likely place volume orders at that point. This would likely lead to a delay of the OLED iPhone launch, but we would not expect it to meaningfully affect volume for the cycle. If it's not able to fix the problems in that time frame, Apple may be forced to eliminate fingerprint sensing from the OLED iPhone altogether.
At this point, Hargreaves does not believe Apple's optical fingerprint module provider has received firm orders for production, which to him suggests that Apple does not have functionality of the optical fingerprint sensor ready. Additionally, he said Apple has evaluated and passed on Synaptics' optical fingerprint solution.

Last week, Cowen and Company analyst Timothy Arcuri said Apple is facing yield issues with its AuthenTec-based under-display fingerprint sensor solution. He too speculated that Apple could remove Touch ID, but he believes it's more likely that Apple will put Touch ID on the back of the iPhone or delay production.

If Touch ID were to be removed, Hargreaves said that would place significant pressure on unproven 3D sensing to replace the verification functionality that fingerprints currently provide. However, he said Apple's 3D sensing production appears on track, and could be a viable alternative to fingerprints.
Suppliers suggest that the solution is both fast and highly reliable, even in low-light scenarios or from odd angles. If this proves accurate, reliance solely on 3D sensing for biometric login and verification could be a viable and innovative replacement for the highly popular fingerprint sensor.
In February, KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said the "iPhone 8" will feature a "revolutionary" front-facing camera system with infrared for fully-featured 3D sensing capabilities. The advancements will enable the camera to determine the location and depth of objects placed in front of it.

Pacific Crest Securities maintains a $150 price target for AAPL with an overweight rating.

Related Roundup: iPhone 8 (2017)
Tag: Touch ID

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Apple is Struggling to Integrate Touch ID Under the iPhone 8’s Display

Apple's supposed "biggest bottleneck" in preparing to mass produce the rumored 5.8-inch iPhone with an edge-to-edge OLED display remains integrating Touch ID underneath the display glass, according to a research note from Cowen and Company analyst Timothy Arcuri obtained by MacRumors.


Arcuri, citing his own "field work" within the supply chain, said the current yield of Apple's in-house AuthenTec-based fingerprint sensor solution is low, while noting that Apple seems unwilling to use an outside solution at this time. If Apple cannot resolve these yield issues, he sees three different scenarios:

• Apple removes Touch ID from the 5.8-inch iPhone entirely and relies solely on facial/iris recognition. Arcuri said this is unlikely, as it's not secure enough, risky, and would potentially create issues with Apple Pay.

• Apple puts Touch ID on the back of the 5.8-inch iPhone, but in a different place than the one on the Galaxy S8, which can be hard to reach. Arcuri said this would not be a user-friendly or optimal solution to say the least.

• Apple delays production of the 5.8-inch iPhone, but still announces the device in early September alongside updated 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch models.

Arcuri said Apple is aiming to finalize its fingerprint sensor specification by May, but if its in-house AuthenTec-based solution is not feasible due to yield issues, mass production of the tentatively named "iPhone 8" could be delayed until September, compared to its usual late July to August timeframe.

Arcuri still expects Apple to announce the 5.8-inch iPhone alongside updated 4.7-inch and 5.5-inch models in September, but supplies may be extremely limited or unavailable whatsoever until later in the year. That timeline echoes recent predictions from Apple analyst Brian White and investment bank Barclays.

It's also a scenario that has occurred with nearly every previous iPhone launch. Last year, the iPhone 7 Plus in Jet Black was a highly popular model among customers, and shipping estimates for online orders quickly slipped to several weeks out. It wasn't until around November that it became more widely available.

The device, which has also been called the iPhone X, iPhone Pro, or iPhone Edition, is expected to feature a new glass and stainless steel design, wireless charging, longer battery life, a new front-facing camera with 3D sensing capabilities, and improved water resistance. It also won't have a physical Home button.

Touch ID-related yield issues may be the reason why 5.8-inch iPhone components and schematics have yet to leak from the supply chain. iPhone 7 and iPhone 7 Plus parts began to leak around March last year.


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