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Apple patents Apple Watch Touch ID system

Future Apple Watch wearables could contain Touch ID fingerprint authentication technology, according to a newly discovered patent application.

The good folks at Patently Apple have discovered that Apple was recently granted a patent for a Touch ID system for the Apple Watch.

The Touch ID system in question would be stored underneath the side button, and would be used for the usual use case scenarios of user identification, device unlocking, application authorisation, and authorising a transaction.

While Apple has been steadily moving over to Face ID as its preferred biometric authentication system, such an approach would seem much less practical for a wearable. The need for additional optics alone would appear to run counter to Apple’s design approach.

As ever with these Apple patents, the fact that a patent has been granted doesn’t mean that such a product wis imminent, or even that it will ever exist. The company routinely issues countless patent applications each year, relatively few of which manifest in final products.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard mention of a Touch ID system being added to the Apple Watch, however. One patent application from November 2019 related to a rearranged antenna system, which would then facilitate an in-display fingerprint sensor.

More recently, in March 2020, there was a rumour that Apple was looking to add Touch ID authentication to the then forthcoming Apple Watch 6. The idea at the time was that Apple would incorporate Touch ID into the Digital Crown.

The fact that neither of these rumours came to pass should encourage us to hold off any bold predictions for the Apple Watch 8 (or even the Apple Watch 9). However, it’s quite obvious that Apple’s hardware team is actively playing around with such a feature.

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