Apple Watch Series 6 is expected this Fall, and a new rumor suggests that it will have a software overhaul and a new Touch ID fingerprint sensor on board. According to a report on Israeli site The Verifier, and picked up by MacRumors, a rumor from people claimed to be senior sources, a Touch ID fingerprint sensor could be built in to the next hardware. You can read all the latest Apple Watch rumors here.
What for, exactly?
At first, it seems a puzzling addition. After all, the only time you need to put in your four-digit password on the Watch is when you first put it on. And even then, if you simply unlock your iPhone, that unlocks the Watch, too.
To make the most of secure transactions using Apple Pay on the Watch you only need to touch the side button twice. For Apple Pay Express Transit you don’t even need to do that.
The Watch knows if it’s been taken off your wrist, so it knows it’s secure until such an event occurs, after which it requires your passcode again.
So, what’s the point? Well, it’s true that the morning ritual would be even easier if all you needed to do was tap the fingerprint sensor rather than type in a code or reach for the iPhone.
Or maybe it’s a way of creating multiple levels of security so you can only access sensitive information more easily? It could be used as a way to authenticate other devices, so if you get a message saying you need to confirm that the login on a new iPad was legit, you just tap the Touch ID sensor.
I find this less convincing because right now such authentication is done without either fingerprint or password.
So, anyway, how?
That’s the next problem with this rumor. The Verifier says the Touch ID sensor will be buried in the display itself, as currently found in the latest smartphone displays.
That’s certainly convenient, but would require a significant alteration to the display technology at the very least. Since the screen tech was updated just months ago, that seems unlikely to me.
Personally, if such a development is to arrive, I’d guess the sensor will be elsewhere. Perhaps in the side button. After all, such fingerprint sensors in side buttons have been around for a while on Sony cellphones, not to mention the new Samsung Galaxy Z Flip and Huawei Mate XS folding phones, where screen mounting just wouldn’t work.
That could be good
Actually, it really could. Instead of having to double-tap the side button to launch Apple Pay on the Watch, you might only have to rest your finger on the side button for the magic to happen.
That said, the rest-your-finger-on-the-fingerprint-sensor technique is how Touch ID phones launch Apple Pay and it has caused issues in the past with users pressing the button instead of touching it. Would Apple want to reintroduce an old system?
The report also claims that watchOS 7 will feature an entirely new design, which is intriguing, though there are no other details just yet. The site also corroborates rumors mentioned elsewhere, such as sleep tracking and a sensor to measure the oxygen levels in the blood. Siri may work better on the Watch, the report claims.
Oh, and there’ll be bad news for Apple Watch Series 1 and Series 2 owners as the software won’t be compatible with Apple Watch models earlier than Series 3. Owners of the original Apple Watch that came before Series 1 and Series 2 are already outside the software update catchment area.
I’ll be updating this story as more details emerge so please check back.
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