Is Fingerprint Scanning Coming to the iPhone?

By on August 14, 2013
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Will the next iPhone include biometrics? Possibly, as a new beta version of Apple’s iOS software, released Monday for developers, contains fingerprint scanning technology.

Beta 4 of iOS 7 includes code for biometric scanning, according to developers sites. The code, in a folder called BiometricKitUI, handles fingerprint recognition from a left or right thumb placed on an iPhone.

The code also includes a tutorial section containing a description of a photo of a person holding the iPhone with their right hand “while touching the Home button with their thumb.” One obvious use for a fingerprint scanner would be as a replacement for the lock screen code now used.

Almost exactly a year ago, Apple spent $356 million to buy a company called AuthenTec, which provided fingerprint sensor and identity management technology for mobile  devices, as well as for governments and networking companies. One of AuthenTec’s customers before the acquisition, interestingly, was Apple’s arch-competitor in the mobile space, Samsung. In regulatory filings related to the acquisition, Apple mentioned it was eager to complete the purchase in order to add fingerprint sensors to its devices.

Code found in a beta version of an operating system does not necessarily mean that the supported feature will appear anytime soon. Apple could be preparing its platform for fingerprint and other identity technologies at a future date. A new iPhone is expected to be released within a few months.

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