Rumors of Apple including facial recognition technology in the iPhone 8 have abounded for some time, and they’re probably not going away. The company is said to have acquired a cyber-tech startup called RealFace, and it could use the startup’s technology to add facial recognition to its devices.

Face Recognition iPhone 8
geralt / Pixabay

The only question now is whether it would be ready for the iPhone 8 this year, which we would call into question. On the other hand, JPMorgan reported that the phone will have a laser sensor for facial scanning, which is probably the more labor-intensive part of the tech. Software such as that developed by RealFace could be added later quite easily.

Apple buys RealFace

According to The Times of Israel, Hebrew-language website Calcalist reports that Apple paid “a couple of million [sic] of dollars” for the Tel Aviv-based firm. It is said to be the iPhone maker’s fourth Israel acquisition.

Adi Eckhouse Barzilai and Aviv Mader started RealFace in 2014 and then developed software that uses a “smart biometric login” that can replace passwords on both PCs and mobile devices. Up to ten people work at the startup, according to data from Startup Nation Central. The Israeli database also indicates that RealFace raised $1 million in funding before Apple acquired it. RealFace has reportedly made sales in the U.S., China, and Europe in addition to its home country of Israel.

The company’s first product was an app called Pickeez, and it uses the facial recognition software to automatically select the best images from all of the social platforms the user is on. The software also integrates artificial intelligence, combining it with facial recognition.

Does this real mean the iPhone 8 will have facial recognition?

Apple typically stays quiet regarding its acquisitions, but there’s no doubt it could use RealFace’s technology to implement facial recognition. Naturally, the tech community is buzzing about this acquisition and jumping to the conclusion that it is proof that Apple will include face scanning tech in the iPhone 8, which is expected this year.

However, it’s unclear whether the deal has been completed in time for the startup’s tech to be included this year. A check of the LinkedIn profiles of RealFace’s senior management reveals that they still list themselves as currently being employed by the startup and not by Apple. This could be part of the company’s typical behavior of keeping acquisitions under wraps for as long as possible.

Hardware would have to be developed first

It’s certainly possible that the iPhone maker began working with the startup separately to develop technology for the iPhone 8, but it likes to keep every aspect of its product development in-house so that it has full control over the tech and can keep new technology proprietary.

One thing that does bode well for this year’s special edition phone having facial recognition is JPMorgan’s claim that Apple will include a laser sensor. It’s more difficult to develop hardware and build it into a device. Software can be added later, if not at the device launch, perhaps via an iOS update later.

Fans and investors alike will be quite disappointed if Apple has nothing spectacular to release this year for the tenth anniversary of its most important device, and facial recognition would fit the bill.