Android phones sometimes follow Apple's lead when it comes to key functionality features, and the next generation of smartphones could be no different. Future Android devices are expected to mimic one of the upcoming iPhone 8's most anticipated new features: 3D facial scanning.
Qualcomm's next generation of Snapdragon chips, which will be announced at the end of the year, will have greatly improved, new image signal processors (ISP) and will likely enable even better depth-sensing capabilities for smartphone cameras, according to a report from CNET.
That new processing power could potentially allow phones with the highest-tier Qualcomm chips — which in the current generation of devices include the flagships from OnePlus, Samsung, and HTC — to offer the same 3D facial sensing feature expected to replace Touch ID in the iPhone 8 as its go-to biometric security feature.
The new 3D scanning capability will ostensibly change the way we interact with our phones yet again, like when the iPhone 5S introduced Touch ID in 2013 and other phonemakers adopted it to follow suit. So Android devices will probably want to adopt the tech as soon as possible to stay competitive.
The new Qualcomm chipset will reportedly use infrared light sensors, which would likely be attached to a smartphone's camera module, to "measure depth and render high-resolution depth maps for facial recognition, 3D reconstruction of objects and mapping." Biometric security features would be one of the most obvious uses for the functionality, although it could also be harnessed for other things, like VR.
You can check out a demo of Qualcomm's 3D mapping and image reconstruction tech in the video below, but there's no footage of the biometric feature described in the CNET report.
The chips could also help to improve Android cameras, which for many, specifically ex-Google SVP of Social Vic Gundotra, lag behind Apple's latest dual lens setup in the iPhone 7 Plus.
The iPhone 8's 3D facial sensors (and everything else about the phone) haven't been confirmed yet, so it might be premature to call the feature the future of smartphone security. The rumor mill is strong however, and Qualcomm is ready to stake its own claim in the functionality — so you shouldn't be surprised if we're all unlocking our new phones with our faces by this time next year.