The iPhone 5S biometric fingerprint security was an incredibly important step in bringing mobile identity management to the mainstream. Yes, it was spoofed almost immediately after release, was the subject of many a YouTube cat-video and some have given up on the Touch ID as a security solution thanks to the false rejection rate that can sometimes be frustratingly finicky, but two things can’t be denied: a fingerprint biometric is more secure than a four-digit PIN or a user-made Apple ID, and it opened the minds and wallets of the general public who were on the fence about strong authentication.
Upon launch, the closed nature of Touch ID was also cause for controversy. The post-password community was apprehensive about Apple’s predictably reluctance to work with third parties, and as a result the iPhone 5S launched with a fingerprint sensor that didn’t immediately reach its potential. There was no mCommerce payment system, a lesson that competitors Samsung and Google would take to heart, and beyond easy and secure logical access control, there was not much else that Touch ID offered to Apple-people.
All of that is about to change.
Apple has applied for a United States patent for Wireless Pairing and Communication Between Devices Using Biometric Data.
The patent application explains Apple’s reasoning and motivation in the description area thusly:
“Given the prevalence of electronic devices (such as desktop computers, mobile computing devices, portable data storage devices, smart phones, digital music players, and so on) that store data in the modern world, many users may own and/or utilize more than one such electronic device. As such, users may need to wirelessly transfer data (such as music files, preference files, configuration files, document files, movie files, image files, and so on) back and/or forth between the storage media of various such electronic devices in order to make full use out of the electronic devices. In order to control the use of such electronic devices and/or the security of data stored by such electronic devices, electronic devices may need to perform one or more `pairing` operations before data transfer can be performed. However, in order to provide access control and/or security, such pairing processes may be time consuming and/or otherwise burdensome for users.
“For example, electronic devices may be configured to pair and/or communicate data utilizing a Bluetooth.RTM. communication connection. However, in order to configure the devices to pair and/or communicate utilizing the Bluetooth.RTM. communication connection a user may be required to enter one or more passcodes into one or more of the electronic devices. Such a manual configuration and/or passcodes entry system may be inconvenient for users. Users may not want to remember passcodes and/or have to enter such passcodes or similar security measures in order to transfer data between different electronic devices.”
Therefore, Apple intends to allow for biometrically secured pairing in order to make data transfer and syncing operations easy and protected. It’s the post-password mantra being applied to iPhone syncing, and it’s a great thing, potentially offering Apple leverage in the BYOD enterprise market.
Recently, it was also revealed that Apple has been laying down the foundations for a biometric iPhone payment solution.
Though it seems to be taking the California tech giant a little bit longer to get to the conclusions that competitors are racing to have ready for their post-iPhone 5S launches, Apple is determined to make its strong authentication solution work. It might have happened faster through collaboration, but working alone is on brand for Apple and by the looks of it the Steve Jobs model is working just fine.