“While Apple’s most recent iPad Pro devices have featured Face ID, the biometric authentication system has never appeared in an iPad Air.”
In a surprise move, Apple has taken its trailblazing 3D facial recognition system out of the iPad for its newest device offering in the tablet line.
The company announced the new iPad Air in its annual media event this week, with a strong emphasis on the large screen that nearly covers the front face of the device. That real estate was facilitated in part by the removal of the home button, which traditionally housed the Touch ID fingerprint scanning system until Apple removed it from the 2018 iPad Pro as part of its pivot to authentication based on face biometrics.
In the 2020 iPad Air, the home button is still missing. But so is Face ID.
Instead, Apple has brought back the Touch ID system, this time placing the fingerprint sensor in the power button on the top side of the device. It’s a surprising move in the wake of groundbreaking technological developments from Apple rivals including fingerprint sensors and even face-scanning cameras that can be situated beneath a device’s display.
Cost may be part of the explanation. Apple’s Face ID system is based on highly sophisticated laser and infrared technologies that are relatively expensive to implement, and the ‘Air’ versions of its devices are meant to be more affordable than their ‘Pro’ line counterparts. While Apple’s most recent iPad Pro devices have featured Face ID, the biometric authentication system has never appeared in an iPad Air.
In addition to emphasizing the iPad Air’s large screen, Apple also placed a strong focus on A14 Bionic processor in announcing the new device, claiming that it delivers a “massive boost in performance,” in the words of Worldwide Marketing VP Greg Joswiak. The processor features a new 6-core design that delivers a 40 percent improvement in CPU performance, and a 16-core Neural Engine that can perform up to 11 trillion operations per second.
Other features of the tablet include a 12MP rear camera, a USB-C port, Wi-Fi 6 connectivity, and compatibility with the Apple Pencil stylus. The new iPad Air is available in five different finishes including grey, silver, pink, light green, and light blue.