Ahead of Apple’s Tuesday media event to unveil the latest flagship iPhone, a report on the Wall Street Journal reaffirms the most anticipated feature of the iPhone 5S–the biometric fingerprint reader.
“Placing a finger on a computer or smartphone has long been proposed as a way to avoid the need for passwords to authenticate users of computers and other devices,” the Journal reported. “People familiar with the matter said last week that Apple will include a fingerprint scanner on the more expensive of two iPhones it is expected to unveil Tuesday at an event at its Cupertino, Calif., headquarters.”
Though Apple isn’t first to debut this technology–it has appeared on the LG eXpo, a phone running Windows Mobile in the past, as well as the Motorola Atrix 4G some years ago–the Cupertino, California company is hoping that its emphasis on security may appeal to business users at the high-end of the market.
In the past, fingerprint scanners on smartphones and laptops have mostly failed because they were “temperamental” and unreliable, sometimes requiring a few attempts to read and register a fingerprint. However, recent concerns over device theft, fraud, hacking, and even privacy concerns with the NSA have renewed interest over device security.
The publication notes that other companies may spur other technology firms into adapting the fingerprint sensor on other smartphone models not made by Apple. Apple’s marketing does help to inform the public of the benefits of new features and innovation.
Fingerprint scanners on a mobile device could also be extended to be used as security token. When the phone is paired or linked with an account, like a Google account, a fingerprint scanner could provide another level of security validation when a user tries to log in on a desktop or on a new terminal. In Apple’s case, the use of a fingerprint scanner with iTunes and all the credit card information that Apple stores could help reduce fraud and make purchases more secure.
Though the iPhone 5S will debut with the new technology, Apple isn’t expected to debut the fingerprint reader on the more budget-oriented iPhone 5C. It’s been rumored for some time now that the “S” in the iPhone 5S name refers to “security.”
As connectivity enters new devices–like the home, cars, and appliances–a fingerprint scanner on an iPhone or smartphone could serve as a key to unlocking those devices as well. For example, with a connected smart lock, a fingerprint scanner on an iPhone could serve as another security measure to unlock the door easily. Current smart lock technology operates when an NFC phone is near or uses Bluetooth Low Energy on a paired phone to unlock the door, which could become problematic if the phone was stolen or lost.
In addition to the fingerprint sensor, the new iPhone 5S may also be wired for NFC connectivity as well, which could also open the doors to mobile payments as Apple expands Passbook to take on Google Wallet.