The iPhone 5s in finally out and thousands have already stood in lines across the world to get their hands on one. As is often the case with each new iPhone, one feature in particular is the cause for all the hype. This time around, it’s touch Apple’s Touch ID, the fingerprint scanner built in to the home button on the front of the iPhone. While Apple isn’t the first to use fingerprint scanning technology in a mobile phone, Touch ID is without a doubt, the best application of the technology so far. Because it is located in the home button itself iPhone users won’t have to do anything different to use it. The real question however is, will Touch ID actually protect sensitive information.
How it works
When a person pulls out their iPhone 5s for the first time and sets up the phone, they will be given the option to set up Touch ID. They simply place a finger on the home button to allow the sensor there to capture the fingerprint. Because many worry about having fingerprint data stored on a device which could potentially be stolen, Apple was quick to announce that the fingerprint data is encrypted. If anyone were to get a hold of the iPhone, they wouldn’t be able to reverse engineer the owner’s fingerprint. Furthermore, fingerprint data remains on the iPhone and is never stored on iCloud or with any third parties such as mobile apps.
The future of mobile commerce
Perhaps the most exciting thing about Touch ID is the implications it has for mobile commerce. If it works, and works well, it wouldn’t be a stretch to imagine every smartphone making use of the technology. Because no two fingerprints are the same, a fingerprint scan is all that’s needed to prove a person is who they say they are.
Currently, Touch ID is only being used to unlock the iPhone and to make purchases in the app store or on iTunes. But down the road, third party apps may get permission to makes use of Touch ID as well. Rather than having to enter a lot of payment information, or a password, a mobile user can simply press a finger onto the scanner and the payment automatically goes through. It’s a fast and seamless way to pay via smartphone.
Will it really work?
One reason, fingerprint scanning technology for personal devices have remained unpopular is that they can be unreliable. Apple has already admitted that Touch ID doesn’t work well with sweaty fingers or with fingers that have been scarred in some way. You can be sure that hackers are also already hard at work trying to find a way around it. In the end, only time will tell just how well Touch ID really works.
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