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October 12, 2017

Apple’s next iPad camera may be compatible with Face ID

by John_A

Why it matters to you

Apple’s next iPad Pro might come equipped with Face ID sensors.

A lot of time and talent went into developing Apple’s Face ID, and the iPhone maker wants its money’s worth. Case in point? Next year’s iPad Pro may inherit the iPhone X’s Face ID-compatible cameras.

KGI Securities analyst Ming-Chi Kuo, who has a proven track record when it comes to Apple rumors, wrote in a note to investors that the next 10.5-inch and 12.9-inch iPad Pro will have a Face ID experience “consistent with the iPhone X.” The report doesn’t speculate as to what might happen to the fingerprint-scanning Touch ID sensor on the current-gen iPad Pro models, but it’s possible it will coexist with Face ID.

Face ID, you might recall, uses a neural engine to map the contours and shapes of faces in real time. It isn’t confused by hairstyles, hats, or beards, and it even works in the dark. And even with that flexibility, Apple says there’s only a one-in-a-million chance someone could circumvent the system (as opposed to a one-in-50,000 chance with Touch ID.)

Kuo predicts that this will spur development of augmented reality and facial recognition apps, and that it could encourage Android manufacturers to pursue Face ID-like technologies of their own.

But it might be a while before the competition catches up. In a previous report, Kuo estimated that Apple’s TrueDepth camera module — the hardware behind Face ID — is “one to two years” ahead of comparable technologies. The sophisticated combination of infrared cameras, proximity sensors, ambient light sensors, and dot projectors is reportedly a challenge to mass manufacture, so much so that Apple’s suppliers are said to have shipped just 40 percent of the components originally expected.

The problem might be severe enough to impact availability of the iPhone X, which launches on November 3. According to Kuo, Face ID production problems might lead to tight inventory in late October through the end of the 2017 holiday season.

It’s unclear how Apple plans to improve yields ahead of the new iPad Pro’s launch, but one thing is for sure: Apple’s competitors have their work cut out for them in matching the capabilities of its upcoming lineup of products.




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