Touch ID brought major changes to how people unlock their iPhones, but it doesn’t appear as if Apple is stopping there. We initially reported that Apple was developing an eye scanning technology back in 2014, but a new report today says the capability could be launching to the public as soon as 2018.

According to a report from DigiTimes, Apple is set to release an iPhone with iris scanning capabilities in 2018. The report cites unnamed sources and notes of the effects iris scanning capabilities will have on the broader smartphone market. It’s likely that Samsung will beat Apple to the market with its eye recognition technology, though, perhaps launching the capability as soon as next month with the Galaxy Note 7.

Samsung is expected to lead all vendors by releasing its new flagship smartphone supporting iris recognition technology in the second half of 2016, while Apple is likely to roll out new iPhone devices with iris sensors in 2018, the sources indicated.

Iris scanning works by recognizing the user’s iris, which is “a flat, colored, ring-shaped membrane behind the cornea of the eye.” Much like a fingerprint, every person’s iris is totally unique, making it a secure way to unlock a smartphone.

There are issues with iris scanning technology, however, including performance in low-light conditions. The iris can also be affected by user actions, such as consuming alcohol or eye dilation. Though, in the right conditions, iris scanning offers a way for user’s to unlock their phone without any physical contact, which could be useful in a variety of situations.

As usual, it should be noted that this rumor comes out of DigiTimes, which has a sketchy track record. When dealing with something that’s still over two years away, it’s also worth pointing out that timetables are very much susceptible to change. KGI’s Ming-Chi Kuo, who is considerably more reliable than DigiTimes, also reported on Apple’s eye recognition plans earlier this year. Kuo, however, mentioned the capability in referring to the 2017 iPhone, which again could be an instance of Apple changing the timetable.

Nevertheless, it’s a very real possibility that a future iPhone will bring support for eye recognition. In addition to applying this feature to unlocking the device, Apple will likely also make it available for Apple Pay transactions and any other instance in which you would today use Touch ID or enter a password.

Would you be interested in iris scanning support? Let us know what you think in the comments.

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About the Author

Chance Miller

Chance is an editor for the entire 9to5 network and covers the latest Apple news for 9to5Mac.

Tips, questions, typos to chance@9to5mac.com