Multiple leaks, rumors, and analyst reports have pointed to the iPhone 8 coming with facial recognition technology. Apple already owns numerous patents related to the face detection system. A new patent published by the US Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) shows that the company is consistently revising and refining its facial recognition technology as the iPhone 8 launch approaches.

iPhone 8 Facial Recognition
Image Source: Apple Inc. / USPTO (screenshot)

Unlock the iPhone 8 without pressing any button

The latest patent builds upon a previous patent granted to Apple last year. As Apple Insider points out, the 2016 patent was based on the work in a patent granted to the iPhone maker in 2015, which Apple had first applied for in 2011. Interestingly, all the patents in the series were titled “Locking and unlocking a mobile device using facial recognition.” It’s a clear indication that Apple intends to implement the technology in the future smartphones.

The technology uses the front camera to detect the user’s face. If the detected face belongs to the authorized owner, it would automatically unlock the device. If the device has been motionless for a specific amount of time and the camera doesn’t see the authorized owner’s face, it will automatically lock the iPhone. It doesn’t require the user to touch or press a button. When you pull out the phone and the camera detects your face, it will instantly unlock the iPhone.

Apple unlikely to ditch Touch ID on iPhone 8

In the latest iteration of the patent, Apple has mentioned an infrared sensor in the “claims” section. The infrared and tilt sensors are part of a motion sensing setup. In January, Cowen & Company analyst Tim Arcuri predicted that the iPhone 8 would feature infrared and laser sensors for facial recognition. KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo also predicts that the 10th anniversary iPhone would sport a 3D laser sensor module.

Even if Apple incorporates facial recognition into the iPhone 8, it is likely to retain the Touch ID fingerprint sensor, at least for now. Touch ID is still used in most Apple products, and the company is still investing in the future of Touch ID. Above all, ditching Touch ID for an untested face detection system on its most important product line won’t be a wise move. Touch ID and facial recognition technologies are likely to co-exist on the iPhone 8, though the fingerprint sensor will be embedded in the display rather than the home button this time.

iPhone 8 to have special sensors for AR

The Wall Street Journal reports that the iPhone 8 would have specialized hardware components for augmented reality (AR). Apple’s upgraded mobile operating system iOS 11, which will be unveiled in June at WWDC, is also rumored to support AR. The WSJ report says the 3D sensors used in the iPhone 7 serve as proximity detectors and range finders. But Apple and its suppliers are working on advanced 3D sensors for the iPhone 8.

The 10th anniversary iPhone would feature a “gently” curved OLED display, wireless charging, an entirely new design, and improved waterproofing capabilities. However, the device may not launch until October or November. Recent reports suggest that certain components are still under development, and they won’t enter mass production until September.