2018 Predictions and Resolutions: The Year of Face ID

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2013 saw the introduction of TouchID, but as popular and highly reviewed as it was, it was the next year when the technology truly arrived and came into its own. It showed up on the iPhone 6, iPhone 6 Plus, the iPad Air 2, and the iPad Mini 3 in the Fall of that year, and it was improved across the board. Not only did it make it across the entire mobile product line, but its speed and accuracy also improved noticeably.

Fast forward to today, and it’s time to think about where we will see Face ID in its second year. Apple has taken a slower approach on iPad releases the last few years, so I originally thought they might stand pat this year and look at refreshing their hardware next year. However, with sales of the iPad up for two full quarters and Face ID proving to be popular, I now have a feeling that we may see two new Pro models with Face ID added in the first half of 2018. There were rumors to this effect floating around after the release of the iPhone X, so this isn’t a novel suggestion.

With more room to play with on the larger screen iPads, I have to believe that Apple is going to forego the very recognizable notch of the iPhone X and go with a straight bezel. I think it is also likely that, even if the iPad Pros lose their Home Buttons, they will retain more of a bezel than the iPhone X did. Speaking of the Home Button, with the iPad Pros being naturally large devices, there is less to gain by getting rid of it than there was with the iPhone. Also, with the new Dock in iOS and its accompanying gesture controls, getting rid of the Home Button and implementing full gesture-based controls could be an interesting challenge, as there would be some overlap between the existing gestures on the iPhone X and the iPad. However, I still wouldn’t be surprised if it is removed to slim down the overall sizes of the two.

As for the lower-cost 5th Generation iPad, I don’t think it will be updated this year, and I’m not sure when we will see Face ID added to it, either. This is the budget-friendly model of the iPad line, and after Apple jumped through hoops to cut the price, I can’t see them turning around and raising it to add Face ID. I have a feeling that it might be another two years or so before we get facial recognition on it the basic iPad.

We also have rumors of an iPhone SE 2 coming in the first half of 2018, which makes perfect sense for a device that is two years old (although there was a bit of a refresh last year). The earliest reports back last Fall mentioned Face ID, but I had my doubts due to the expense it would add to what is a budget phone for Apple. More recent rumors do not mention its inclusion, and I think they will turn out to be accurate. TouchID isn’t quite dead yet!

We will definitely see a follow-up to the iPhone X in the Fall, but where things get interesting is in the speculation of how many new variations we might get. There are very strong indications that we will get three new iPhones, and that all will include Face ID. One will obviously be an updated version of the X with the same form factor. It sounds very much like another will be a 6.5″ OLED screen version with the same or similar specs, which I personally can’t wait for. The last is rumored to be an 6.1″ LCD screen version, which would presumably be offered at a significantly reduced price. Such a phone could prove to be an enormously popular device if Ming-Chi Kuo is correct about the price ranging between $649 and $749.

It’s going to be another very busy year for Apple, and Face ID is going to be at the forefront of a large number of the company’s hardware updates. I think it’s safe to say that Apple will release at least five new devices with their facial recognition technology this year: 2 iPad Pros and 3 iPhones. As a bonus, I also wouldn’t be surprised if Face ID made its way to a new MacBook and/or MacBook Pro this year, as well. The technology would be a perfect fit, right down to the addition of Animoji to Messages on macOS.

I think that we will also see noticeable improvements in Face ID after several months in the field. It should be more accurate thanks to its machines learning capabilities, which should be a little more mature by then. Also, I wouldn’t be surprised if Apple spent some effort improving the angles that recognition works at, since both iPads and Macs tend to be used in stationary positions. We need Face ID to adjust to that, not us to it. Thanks to Apple’s usual advances in processors, we should also see even better recognition speeds. And last, I have a feeling we will eventually see FaceID multi-person support, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see that on the iPad Pro this year.

No matter what happens, look for Face ID to have its big coming out party this year, just like TouchID did in 2014. Now you know what I think. How about you? What devices do you think we will see Face ID on in 2018? Let me know what you think in the Comments section below, on Flipboard, on our Facebook page, or on Twitter @iPadInsightBlog.


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