We know Apple (AAPL) is releasing a new iPhone (or more likely, iPhones) on Sept. 10 — the invites have been sent. We’re also pretty sure that the new flagship iPhone is going to incorporate a fingerprint scanner. Leaked photos of the component have gone viral at this point and besides, it just makes sense.
When it has an incremental upgrade smartphone to release (one that looks just like last year’s model, only a little faster), the company likes to incorporate a unique feature to entice people to upgrade. With the iPhone 4S, that was Siri. Given the credible fingerprint sensor photos and Apple’s purchase last year of AuthenTec, there’s a good chance the technology will be this year’s killer iPhone feature.
Whether Apple is the one to introduce it or someone else, it’s only a matter of time before biometric security becomes a standard feature on smartphones.
Why would you need a fingerprint scanner instead of simply entering a passcode like you do today? Two reasons: The data accessible via your smartphone, and mobile payment.
At one time, cell phones stored the telephone numbers for the 10 people you called most frequently — and that was about it. Smartphones now store literally everything we once used a computer for. That contact information is a virtual Rolodex that might include physical addresses and email accounts. Chances are your credit card information is on your smartphone, photos of your family, maybe even a copy of your household budget.
And with the popularity of BYOD, that smartphone might be loaded with confidential documents. Besides what’s physically stored on the device, launching the web browser or email could offer a treasure trove of access to websites, online banking, corporate networks and private messages.
Consider how small a smartphone is and how easy it is to misplace or have stolen. If you’re like most people, access to the information it holds is a four-digit passcode away — at best. Given what’s on that smartphone and how easy it is for the device to end up in the wrong hands, a mere passcode seems woefully inadequate. Plus, memorizing PINs, passcodes and passwords, then remembering to update them has become a real pain.
Yes, there are advanced security options already available (for example, iPhone users can remotely wipe data or configure their device to erase the contents after 10 failed login attempts), but the average user doesn’t dive deeply enough to activate these options.
Apple is going to push the iPhone 5S and its fingerprint sensor as being the ultimate defense against unauthorized access — uncrackable and dead simple to use.