iPhone 11 might have cool new Touch ID feature

An Apple patent suggests you'll be able someday to unlock your phone by touching anywhere on the screen.

Touch ID, which first appeared in 2013's iPhone 5S, could be be getting a big upgrade.

We're probably still some months away from the iPhone 11's release, but an Apple patent just gave us a hint about one of its features.

The Cupertino, California, company is developing fingerprint sensor that'd let you unlock your phone by touching anywhere on the screen, as seen in a patent granted Tuesday and previously reported by Patently Apple.


The patent reveals the new Touch ID system.

Patently Apple

The traditional Touch ID -- which made its debut with 2013's iPhone 5S -- only works on the home button. The new version would employ an "acoustic imaging system" that'd use waves under the iPhone's display to identity your fingerprint when you touch the screen.

In a strange twist, the system could also map your ear so it could unlock your phone too. That'd make for some seamless call answering, but Ear ID (or maybe Hear ID?) would be some odd branding.

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Apple doesn't comment on rumor or speculation, a spokesperson said in an emailed response.

The company replaced Touch ID with Face ID, a facial recognition authentication system, when it abandoned the home button for 2017's  iPhone X.

First published at 5:11 a.m. PT.
Updated at 5:40 a.m. PT: Adds more detail.