Apple to launch facial recognition authorisation for payments?

Posted by Ryan Raubenheimer on

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Facial recognition software that unlocks Apple products and authorises payments could be among the big ticket items set to be revealed in less than a week as Apple hosts its major keynote address for 2017.

On September 12 the tech giant will stage its big reveal of all things Apple with a totally revamped iPhone 8 and Apple Watch 3 rumoured to be on the list.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the hugely successful iPhone, and as a result many are tipping a major overhaul that could deliver the latest in 3D facial recognition software that will unlock the device and authorise Apple payments.

It’s all the subject of a flurry of rumours and innuendo, so let’s take a look at the speculation doing the rounds.

Facial unlocking and payments

With this year marking 10 years of iPhone, the iPhone 8 is expected to feature substantial changes including facial recognition capability courtesy of 3D cameras.

The speculation is reportedly based on a series of accidental leaks from HomePod firmware, which also runs IOS.

The Verge reports: “In the latest discoveries, developers have uncovered what looks like a resizable home button for the new handset, as well as support for Apple Pay authentication using facial recognition”.

They continue, developer Guilherme Rambo found references to ‘Pearl ID’ (Apple’s codename for its facial recognition system). These suggest the software will be able to store multiple faces and will be accessible by third party apps.

“The firmware also includes the phrase ‘multi biometric,’ which suggests the phone might support two-step biometric authentication for extra security. That would mean combining, say, facial recognition and fingerprint ID. Additionally, the firmware code suggests that both the front and rear camera of the phone will be used for facial recognition.”

Facial recognition payments gaining popularity

It’s not the first time facial recognition for payment authorisation has made the news. Last year payment behemoth Mastercard announced “Selfie Payments” were being tested in Europe with plans to roll out globally.

The process works for users already utilising Mastercard to make online or mobile payments, with the company developing a downloadable app that helps authentic these transactions.

During set-up users take a facial image of themselves which is sent to Mastercard to provide facial biometrics. When making a payment the consumer receives a pop-up during checkout that prompts them to authorise a payment by taking a selfie.

In a bid to thwart any attempts at fraud the consumer will need to blink to prove it's a real, not static, or stolen image. Alternatively, the app also allows consumers to use their fingerprint for identity verification.

But if Apple were to embrace facial recognition technology, it would take biometric payments to a whole new level.

Further rumours about the facial recognition technology covered by Macrumors indicate: “Apple's upcoming facial recognition system is said to be faster and more secure than Touch ID. It can unlock an iPhone within a few hundred milliseconds, and it captures more data points than a fingerprint scan”.

“It's not yet clear how Apple Pay will work without a Home button and without a fingerprint, but it will presumably be able to authenticate by scanning a user's face, with a payment completed via a finger on the screen as is the case in current iPhones,” the continue in a further article.

More Apple iPhone rumours

Of course Apple likes to pack a little bang into new product buck, and there are a host of other rumoured changes to the iPhone doing the rounds.

Both Macworld and TechRadar have covered these in depth, noting new features may include:

  • A redesigned screen - This rumour leads the charge with predictions the iPhone 8 will feature a radically redesigned screen which might be 5.8 inches and AMOLED in a smaller frame.
  • Wireless charging
  • No physical Home button - Instead the phone might utilise gesture control or a virtual home button
  • Face unlock - Using a 3D scanning face sensor to unlock the device
  • Augmented reality features
  • 3D cameras
  • Longer battery life

Meanwhile, the Apple Watch 3 could also be revealed at the event, and the prevailing school of thought is that the new version will be able to make phone calls independently of the iPhone.

The final word

Regardless of whether Apple rolls out facial unlocking on iPhone 8 at this keynote event, or removes the physical home button, or unveils wireless charging, September 12 will see all eyes on California as the company renowned for its forward thinking frames the future in the way only Apple can.

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