The next iteration of the Apple Watch could come with Touch ID thanks to relocated antennas, according to a patent published last week.
The patent suggests that Apple will move the antennas in its smartwatch to make room for other features beneath the display, including a fingerprint sensor.
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The patent explains that the revamped watch body “can include components for interacting with a user”. According to Apple, the display “may also provide an input surface for one or more input devices such as a touch sensing device, force sensing device, temperature sensing device, and/or a fingerprint sensor”.
Though the patent was filed last May, it was only published by the United States Patent and Trademark Office last week (first spotted by Patently Apple), explaining why Apple may have put off adding the popular security feature to the Apple Watch 5 earlier this year.
The additional step in authentication would be a welcome one, as Apple’s smartwatch can already be used to unlock other devices and make Apple Pay transactions in shops and on public transport.
Of course, this will only happen if Apple decides to follow through with the idea and transplant the antennas from the watch body into the strap — a challenge considering how much movement the strap goes through on a day to day basis.
The patent suggests that Apple hopes to create antennas that can “adaptably stretch, bend, and flex with the watch band body, thereby avoiding damage from applied forces while also maintaining the compliance and comfort of the watch band while worn”, though it is not clear what this will mean for users when it comes to replacing the band.
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The company only launched Apple Watch Studio in September, allowing users to customise their smartwatch to their heart’s desire in store or online. Moving the antennas to the band could potentially make the smartwatch more difficult to personalise.
While Apple continues to use Touch ID in many of its devices, including the iPad 2018, the iPad Mini 5 and the Touch Bar on the brand’s MacBook Pro 13-inch, the feature has since been replaced by Face ID on the iPhone. This move would mark the return of the fingerprint sensor to Apple’s smaller mobile devices.